Sunday 24 September 2017

Taoiseach: Government won't do 'anything foolish' with economy as public sector pay talks commence

Enda Kenny
Enda Kenny
Daniel McConnell

Daniel McConnell

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said the Government will not do “anything foolish” with the economy as pay talks with public sector unions commence later today.

Mr Kenny has said public servants cannot expect a “blank cheque” in pay negotiations which are due to start on Tuesday.

Echoing comments from Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin that there will be no pay bonanza for State employees, Mr Kenny said Mr Howlin had been mandated to begin unwinding the emergency financial measures legislation.

“Obviously the Minister himself has pointed out that he doesn’t have a blank cheque and that productivity and continued reform are essential,” Mr Kenny said.

Trade unions are calling for a flat-rate increase in pay as this would disproportionately benefit the lower paid.

Speaking on his way into Cabinet, Mr Kenny said the Government was “not going to do anything foolish” when asked about fiscal warnings emanating from Europe in relation to the Coalition’s spending plans for the coming budget.

Mr Kenny said the Government was “well aware” of what had been flagged by the European Commission.

“On the other hand we have made great progress. We’ll have our deficit eliminated in a couple of years and obviously we want to create 40,000 more jobs,” he said.

It is understood public service workers are set to gain on average more than €800 each as part of the Government’s reversal of pay cuts, an allocation requiring around €250 million - and possibly up to €300 million - as part of a deal to partially restore pay levels .

The process of beginning the reversal of pay cuts put in place for 300,000 public service staff over recent years will begin on Tuesday when Government representatives hold their first round of talks with trade unions.

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