Gilmore opposed to pay cuts for public sector


LABOUR PARTY leader Eamon Gilmore has come out against pay cuts for public servants and proposed instead a negotiated deal with the unions to reduce the overall pay bill.

He told a Labour pre-budget seminar at the weekend that across-the-board pay cuts for public servants would not deliver the kind of reform required.

“If we abandon the partnership approach now it could take a generation to restore it. People who are sent away from the negotiating table now will not be enticed back when things improve,” said Mr Gilmore. He accepted the need to achieve spending cuts of €4 billion in the budget but said it should not be achieved through cuts alone.

He proposed instead that the target figure could be reached through a combination of agreed public service reform, a reduction in the capital budget through lower tendering prices and more revenue from taxation through the elimination of tax relief for landlords and a new third rate of tax on incomes above €100,000.

Mr Gilmore put forward five proposals which he said could form the basis of a new programme for national recovery.

They were: a coherent jobs strategy; a guarantee that people with mortgage difficulties will not lose their homes; a budget based on the principles of equity and fairness; negotiated savings on the public sector wage bill; and a commitment in return from the trade unions to industrial peace.

“The Fianna Fáil approach is simple. It’s called beggar my neighbour. They have chosen to sow division, and to engender conflict . . . to identify particular groups in society, to demonise them and to target them.”

Part of the budget deficit was due to the global recession, he said, and would be eliminated eventually when growth resumed.

“But the other part, the structural deficit, will not correct itself. That structural deficit is the Fianna Fáil deficit. It is the part which has its origins in the mismanagement of the economy by Charlie McCreevy and Brian Cowen.”