Bruton pushes ahead with plan to slash Sunday rate for low paid
ENTERPRISE Minister Richard Bruton yesterday pushed ahead with his plan to reduce Sunday allowances for low-paid workers, despite claims he had backed down.
Mr Bruton dropped some smaller parts of his controversial wage-reform proposals, but the vast majority of his plan remains the same, the Irish Independent understands.
The minister brought his proposals to change joint labour committees and employment regulation orders to Cabinet, amid ongoing hostility from the Labour Party.
But a government spokesman crucially confirmed that the proposals would also be run past the IMF-EU bailout team -- a move which is expected to benefit Mr Bruton.
The spokesman said "good progress was made" at the cabinet meeting yesterday.
Labour attempted to play down the significance of the proposals, although a spokesperson for the junior coalition partners said there were "good discussions" and ultimately conceded there was "progress made".
Contrary to suggestions that he was postponing the issue of Sunday pay until a later date, Mr Bruton presented his own proposals, rather than just the recommendations of the special report on the issue.
"It was all his proposals," a Government source said.
The Cabinet is also awaiting the outcome of a High Court case challenging the constitutionality of the joint labour committee system.
Before the Government makes its final decision, the IMF-EU will be consulted on the proposals with a team from the IMF, the European Commission and the ECB due back here this week.
"They want substantive reform. They are specifically interested in it," a source said.
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said the issue of additional social welfare payments as a result of the changes would have to be factored into the Government's decision.
"I'm confident the Government will be able to agree a package of reforms," he said.
Mr Bruton's spokesman said he expected that the proposals would be discussed by the Cabinet again next week.
"The minister is of the view that reform in the area is urgent and is keen to drive this through as soon as possible," he said.
The intervention of the IMF-EU team is expected to be vital to the outcome.
Earlier this month, ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet was believed to have given coded backing to Mr Bruton's proposals.
Mr Trichet tried to stay out of the argument but did say that anything to encourage flexibility and structural reform was good.
"Of course in the present circumstances in particular, all that could go in this direction would certainly seem to be appropriate, without entering into details of measures," he said.