Pay cuts not way to reduce costs in public sector, says Gilmore


LABOUR PARTY leader Eamon Gilmore has accepted the need for a 5 per cent reduction in the public sector pay bill in the budget, but he has come out against pay cuts as a way of achieving this target.

Mr Gilmore said savings could be made through changes in overtime, premium payments and changed work practices, that would allow for greater flexibility in the public service.

“I think the public sector pay bill has to be reduced,” Mr Gilmore said on The Frontlineprogramme on RTÉ television.

“You can do this by achieving reforms. It is not just a question of cutting pay. I don’t agree with cutting pay across the board.”

The Labour leader accepted that the pay bill had to be reduced.

“We have to achieve economies on the pay bill, but we also have to achieve reforms in the way it works. There are a variety of ways in which it can be done.”

He said savings could be made by looking at overtime, the various premium payments, work practices and in some cases at numbers employed.

“If you are looking at those you also have to achieve flexibility; for instance, people moving between one agency and another.”

Mr Gilmore conceded that savings of €4 billion or so would have to be achieved in the forthcoming budget but he ruled out cuts in welfare rates and pay rates in order to achieve this target.

“The basic rate of social welfare at the moment is €204 a week. I don’t think that can be cut, but I think there are reforms that can be made to the social welfare system.”

He said at the moment €500 million a year was being paid by the State in rent allowances, with 90,000 families benefiting.

“At the same time there are 136,000 dwellings in the country that are empty as a consequence of the property bubble. We should be moving people off rent allowance and into these vacant dwellings.”