Tuesday 23 January 2018

Civil service gets no legal guarantee their pay will be restored

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

HIGHER-paid public servants have been left without any legal guarantee of getting their salaries restored in five years' time.

The pay of senior civil servants, school principals, garda superintendents and others earning over €65,000 is due to be cut by at least 5.5pc under the new public sector pay deal.

But even though there is a commitment in the deal to restore the salary scales in 2017 and 2018, it will be up to a future government to deliver on it because there is no legal commitment in the pay cuts legislation passed last week.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has confirmed that there is no legal guarantee in the public sector pay cuts legislation for salaries over €65,000 to be restored to their previous level.

"The Government has undertaken to implement its commitments and will follow that through, including the pay adjustments proposed for 2017 and 2018. It would expect the same of any union which commits to the agreement," a spokeswoman said.

Unions are currently balloting their members on the new Haddington Road Agreement – with the threat of further pay cuts lurking in the background should they not accept it.

Fianna Fail public expenditure spokesman Sean Fleming cast doubt on whether the Government would stand by its promise. He said Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin had already broken the commitment to the Croke Park deal – which was supposed to last until the end of the year.

"How is he supposed to know what the next government will do and whether it will stand by the agreement? He didn't stand by the agreement he inherited, he cut it short," he said.

Mr Fleming said Fianna Fail could not guarantee it would restore the salaries of higher-paid public servants if it won the next election.

IRRESPONSIBLE

"It would be irresponsible for any party to start talking up commitments because we don't know the situation economically come the next election," he said.

The Government has already been criticised for failing to deliver on election promises such as abolishing upward-only rent reviews. Labour has been criticised for breaking promises not to cut child benefit, increase third-level fees or bring in water charges.

Mr Howlin has said 85pc of public servants who earn under €65,000 will be unaffected by the pay cuts.

He has also said that the pay reductions in the Haddington Road agreement are necessary because almost €1bn per month is being borrowed to fund our public service.

Irish Independent

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