Whelan urges rethink on pay-cut proposals
Seanad reportOne of two Labour members who called for a Government rethink on proposed pay cuts for frontline public sector workers, said he thought these staff were being double-crossed halfway through the Croke Park agreement.
John Whelan said he was dismayed at the way workers in the 24/7 alliance were being treated in the pay review talks. They were being wrongly characterised as people who did not want to move forward. The work performed on Sundays by gardaí, firefighters and nurses, among others, could not be compared with that of restaurant and office workers.
Frontline personnel worked in a highly challenging environment and many of them often put their own lives on the line. “Since biblical times Sunday has been a day of rest and a day that people spent with their families.”
Mr Whelan said he believed that the alliance was justifiably seething with anger. He would implore the Ministers for public expenditure and justice to re-engage with the Garda representative bodies. It would be terribly damaging to this country, to the Government and to our democracy if we were to go down the road of Bulgaria – where the government resigned yesterday – or Greece where there were on-going national strikes by public sector workers.
He said it would be a disaster if our gardaí and prison officers were forced to strike.
Party colleague John Kelly said frontline workers and other middle-income earners had nothing left to give. He would agree with Diarmuid Wilson (FF) that morale in the Garda ranks was at an all-time low.
The Government was looking in the wrong direction in its efforts to solve the current fiscal problem. It should be concentrating on those at the highest tier of the public service. It was known, for example, that the HSE was top-heavy with management, yet junior nurses were being targeted for serious pay cuts.
Seanad leader Maurice Cummins (FG) said the aim of the talks was to achieve the best possible deal for all public servants.