SIPTU boss refuses cut to €124,000 pay
Published 16/10/2009 | 05:00
THE leader of the country's biggest union is not considering a cut in his €124,000 pay while his members are facing wage reductions and job losses.
Jack O'Connor, whose annual salary is €124,895, said a drop in wages would be used as "an excuse to drive pay cuts across the economy".
Mr O'Connor said he would only consider a reduction if an examination of the union's finances showed a pay cut was necessary to avoid job losses.
However, he said high earners should be more heavily taxed, and called for a 10pc income levy for workers earning over €100,000, including himself.
SIPTU is currently battling employers, including Mr Binman and Coca Cola, over wage reductions of up to 60pc for staff.
But Mr O'Connor said wage cuts are not yet widespread across the economy, as shown in recent IBEC and Mercer surveys, and his union would not encourage this. He clarified the situation where a pay cut at SIPTU might be considered after indicating that his pay might be reviewed in certain circumstances on the Vincent Browne television show.
Mr O'Connor said his wages were similar to those of middle rather than top management in the private sector.
The main union leaders are on salaries comparable to the SIPTU chief, with Irish Congress of Trade Unions general secretary David Begg earning over €136,000 and IMPACT general secretary Peter McLoone on an annual salary of €155,300.
"A pay cut is not being considered but the question might arise if the union were to find itself in any kind of difficulty," said Mr O'Connor.
"Otherwise, it will be used as an excuse to drive pay cuts across the economy.
"I'm opposed to pay cuts and the union is opposed to pay cuts because of the unfairness of them and the fact they will undermine domestic demand."
The union leader's comments came as almost three-quarters of employers said they had changed or planned to alter their staff's pay and conditions due to the recession.
A survey by recruitment firm Hays also revealed that two-thirds of workers wanted to keep their jobs and would not accept voluntary redundancy.
A total of 39pc of companies said they had changed pay and conditions to cut costs and a further 31pc planned to do so.