Salary increase for super junior ministers

 

Sir, – Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has justified an increase in salary for three super junior ministers to provide equality of pay among ministers of state on the basis of them “all doing the same work” (“Donohoe says salary top-ups need to be seen in context of stimulus”, irishtimes.com, July 26th).

If this ideal is a priority for the new Government many doctors, nurses, teachers, and gardaí (to name a few groups), will be thrilled with the reinstatement of previous salaries and conditions to provide us with equality of pay considering we are “all doing the same work” as our colleagues. I eagerly await the Government’s next announcement. – Yours, etc,

Dr MARY SCRIVEN,

Ballinlough, Cork.

Sir, – It was interesting to hear Minister for Finance Pascal Donohoe on RTÉ’s This Week defend the pay rise of the new super junior ministers on grounds of equal work. The ASTI campaign Equal Pay For Equal Work, including strike action, has fallen on deaf ears since 2016. It is good to see the Pauline conversion of the Minister. We look forward to appropriate action in line with this policy – equalisation of pay for our lesser paid teachers.

It is most important at a time when the value of education and a properly funded education system is recognised by one and all that the basic principle of practise what you preach is adhered to. – Yours, etc,

DEIRDRE MAC DONALD,

ASTI President, Dublin 8.

Sir, – I would like to congratulate the three super junior ministers to their recent appointments.

There has been much controversy about their salary, but given that the new Government’s position is, in the words of our Minister for Finance, “We were looking to get to a point that if they were doing the same work they were paid the same” can be summarised by the phrase “equal pay for equal work”, their salary is justified.

Teachers who have entered the profession since 2011 would like it too. – Yours, etc,

CHRISTOPHER DAVEY,

(Lower paid teacher),

Sligo.

Sir, – If I were a nurse or a hospital cleaner, a carer or a person who delivers community help along with the post, I’d have to conclude that I still live in a post-colonial adolescent Ireland – a country whose notion of a fair society is based on bogus hierarchies of political self-importance, an ever more defensive public service and morally unacceptable pay scales that are an affront to our citizenry.

I wish the Government well in its attempt to “find its rhythm” in these remarkably difficult times.

It also has the opportunity to begin at last, after a hundred years of self-government, to create structures that give a more real expression to our republican ideals of a richly egalitarian society. This is a task that requires imagination. Recall a Citizens’ Assembly please. – Yours, etc,

LELIA DOOLAN,

Co Galway.

Sir, – The Government’s decision to pay an increase of €16,288 to super junior Ministers already on a large salary of €124,000 and to pass legislation regarding this in a matter of days, is utterly obscene. Furthermore, to use equality of pay as a reason to ensure all three of these newly appointed Ministers are paid the same because they don’t want them earning different salaries, is an outrageous slap in the face to every worker in this country who has sought their rights, equal pay and a quality standard of life through a living wage and been denied it.

For years, workers across this country have called for equality of pay. For decades women have sought equal pay for equal work. Just in the past week this self-same government voted No to a “workers rights” motion which would have seen greater protection for workers on low pay, precarious work and collective bargaining rights. Childcare and healthcare workers are on low pay struggling to make ends meet. Frontline workers such as nurses, doctors, consultants, teachers have been calling for equality of pay for years for those on different rates of pay doing the same work – a pay disparity that was introduced by a previous government in 2012 which is based on the date of commencement of employment.

Indeed, we can also look to the two-tiered social welfare system in the Covid-19 pandemic payment which sees people who lost jobs receiving social welfare of €350 per week, while those who lost jobs before Covid are paid €203 per week. The hypocrisy of government to think all of this is right and fair and also good enough just to give frontline workers a round of applause.

All of this highlights the lack of fairness and inequality that this Government and previous governments have been willing to stand over. Yet, when it came to these three super junior ministers they cite unfairness and inequality as reasons to pass swift legislation to ensure they are all paid the same.

It is a stomach-churning exercise made all the more sickening by the fact that this country is in the greatest economic crisis since the foundation of the State leaving hundreds of thousands of men, women and children all across this country in fear about an uncertain future.

Shame on all TDs across the Government parties and none who voted for this. It now falls on these three super junior ministers to refuse this pay increase for it symbolises all that is rotten in Irish politics. – Yours, etc,

BERNADETTE PHILLIPS,

Waterford.

Sir, – The legislation, enacted last week to allow a third “super” junior minister, draw down an additional €16,000 for participation at Cabinet meetings, is disappointing to say the least.

Would it not have been a privilege for a junior minister, already on a salary of €124,000, to serve at Cabinet? Now that rotation is the order of the day, surely the three “super” juniors could have rotated the periods to draw down the additional €16,000. More worrying, now in a period of great instability and unemployment, has no one in Cabinet envisaged the possible necessity for wage restraint in the coming years?

An aphorism of the late TK Whitaker was that “the price of job preservation is income restraint”. – Yours, etc,

SEAMUS BELLEW,

Dundalk, Co Louth.

Sir, – The pay increases for super junior ministers, makes a very good prima facie case for the re-introduction of the pillory, the stocks and the ducking stool for politicians who think themselves betters to the electorate. – Yours, etc,

LIAM POWER,

Dundalk,

Co Louth.