Friday 20 January 2017

You can't rely on State figures if you want a fair public pay debate

Published 20/10/2016 | 02:30

Michael Noonan and Paschal Donohoe hold the nation's purse strings Photo: Doug O'Connor
Michael Noonan and Paschal Donohoe hold the nation's purse strings Photo: Doug O'Connor

Last week this column discussed Budget 2017. Among other issues, it looked at public sector pay, a matter that has become more topical by the day since. Industrial unrest on a scale last seen in the 1970s and 1980s could be looming, something that would be economically damaging, politically destabilising and socially divisive.

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Last Saturday I discussed those same public pay figures on RTé radio's 'Saturday with Claire Byrne' show. Towards the end of the hour-long broadcast, a communication from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform landed on the presenter's desk. The department took issue with the figures.

Before looking in some considerable detail at the differences in the figures I used and those cited by the department, two things should be said by way of preface.

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