Warning No vote could hit public pay

Tue, May 29, 2012, 01:00

TRADE UNION leaders advocating a Yes vote have maintained that a rejection of the treaty could lead to savage reductions in public service pay, pensions and welfare benefits.

At a press conference yesterday, the general secretary of Impact, Shay Cody, said the No campaign was asking the Irish people to take a massive risk because it had failed to identify a guaranteed alternative source of funding for the Government.

“Ultimately the choice for workers is simple. There is a significant danger that if we are locked out of the ESM, we will not have any funding or that the conditions attached to any funding beyond 2014 would be such that austerity would be worsened.

“It is like if you say at the moment we are not interested in taking up a decent term loan from a bank manager but we would rather take our chances with a moneylender in 18 months’ time.”

Blair Horan, former general secretary of the Civil Public and Services Union and current chairman of the Charter Group, said the consequences of a No vote were truly frightening.

“It is very clear now that the ESM fund is the only option for Ireland in 2014 if the markets are closed. Without that option, pay for public servants, pensioners and those on social welfare benefits face savage cuts.”

He said a worse scenario was also possible in which Ireland, without access to funding to roll over debts, would default.

He said in such a situation, an exit from the euro was a distinct possibility. This would put living standards back to the 1950s.

Mr Horan said the UBS Group had estimated last September that an exit from the euro would cost up to €11,500 for each person for the first year and €4,000 a person in subsequent years.

The general secretary of the Communications Workers Union, Steve Fitzpatrick, said the passing of the referendum was particularly crucial for the communications and technology sector where so many Irish jobs were effectively supported by investment from major international brands.

“This investment will only be forthcoming and maintained where international business has confidence about Ireland’s position as the only English-speaking member of the euro zone,” Mr Fitzpatrick added. “A Yes vote is central to maintaining this confidence.”