Unions split over U-turn on cuts
Published 11/02/2010 | 05:00
PUBLIC sector unions -- who have been calling on all workers to be treated fairly during the economic crisis -- are now split over the controversial U-turn on pay cuts to senior civil servants.
Finance Minister Brian Lenihan announced in the December Budget that top public sector earners would see their wages cut by between 8pc and 12pc.
But in a U-turn two weeks later, the cuts, which affected 642 people earning more than €130,000, were scaled back to between 3.3pc and 5.5pc.
Only the Civil Public and Services Union (CPSU), which represents lower-paid workers, has called for the full cut to be implemented in the interests of fairness.
IMPACT -- which represents the higher public sector earners -- had described the U-turn as "cynical" and unfair but now says it is opposed to all cuts.
The rest of the 10 unions surveyed by the Irish Independent are split between those who won't take a stance on the issue and those opposed to any cuts.
The report of the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector recommended that the full cuts be implemented, even when the abolition of bonuses was considered.
But it was argued the higher paid had already taken cuts of around 10pc, when the removal of performance bonuses was factored in.
"I've never seen a situation where a report of the review body would be amended or rescinded. That's an extraordinary development," Blair Horan of the CPSU said.
However, a spokesperson for SIPTU said it had "no comment" on the cuts to the higher paid but said that a higher tax bracket should be imposed on those earning over €100,000.
SIPTU yesterday launched a campaign against the "Government's plans to reduce the incomes of the lowest-paid workers".
Dave Hughes of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Association said members were "fairly amazed" at the U-turn and added those in his union who were eligible for performance related bonuses had taken a full cut.
Don Ryan of the Teachers' Union of Ireland said the Government U-turn was part of a move to "divide and conquer".
The Prison Officers' Association (POA) said it was not its place to call for pay cuts but said that there was a lot of anger amongst its members.