LABOUR TDs are going to back the new public sector pay deal – but are bracing themselves for the backlash.
Many TDs are expected to come under pressure from public sector workers who voted for them at the last election to ensure there were no further cuts to pay and conditions.
But Labour chief whip Emmet Stagg said he believed the deal was a "good achievement" – with no further cuts in the lifetime of this Government.
"I think they have arrived at a very balanced and fair deal, spreading the burden across the sectors. And I hope at the end of the three years we can look at negotiations for wage increases," he said.
The party is conscious that there is going to be a backlash from workers. But it is pinning its hopes on a recovery in the economy by the time of the 2016 general election.
And it is still maintaining that the party's influence has ensured that cuts are confined to higher-paid public sector workers rather than a repeat of the previous across-the-board cuts in 2009.
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore attempted to reduce the anger of public sector workers yesterday by floating the possibility of talks on restoring lost pay after the 2016 general election.
"I believe we will be in a different place – and those discussions will be about the improvement of conditions," he said.
Labour Dublin South East TD Kevin Humphreys said the Government was trying to repair damage inflicted by the previous Fianna Fail-led government.
However, Labour senator John Whelan has sent a letter to Mr Gilmore calling on him to meet with members of the 24/7 Frontline Alliance, which includes gardai, prison officers, nurses and firefighters. He warned that these workers were prepared to engage in a series of crippling strikes.
"I'm certain they are not posturing or adopting a negotiating position. Nothing will be achieved by the Government claiming a deal will be done, when such a large group do not believe they have been given a fair hearing," he said.
Labour TDs do not expect the opposition to heed the call of Mr Gilmore to "stand back" and not interfere with the balloting of public sector workers on the deal.