'Crazy' public pay deal provokes fury of Fine Gael backbenchers
The Government's new public-sector pay deal has been severely criticised by a number of Fine Gael TDs, who have branded it as a "desperate Labour attempt to keep unions onside".
The new deal, which will cost €566m over three years, has been slated by Government TDs who questioned if the Coalition even has a mandate to do the deal.
Under the terms of the deal, known as the Lansdowne Road Agreement, State employees are to receive an average of €2,000 each over the next two years.
Defending the outcome, Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin said it will ensure industrial peace, but backbench TDs in Fine Gael have reacted strongly to the agreement.
Dublin Bay South TD Eoghan Murphy described the deal as "crazy". He told the Sunday Independent: "From what I've heard, I think it's crazy. Borrowing to pay one sector a pay increase, which is then funded by every taxpayer. I would question whether or not the Government has a mandate to do it to be honest."
"I am very disappointed that the process wasn't conducted by an independent commission to ensure transparency and fairness. We've reverted to the practices of the past. Money should have been distributed evenly to all taxpayers through tax cuts and not just a pay bonus for one sector," he added.
Waterford TD and Public Accounts Committee vice-chairman John Deasy also hit out at the pay deal and argued that any dividend of the rising economy should not be limited to just one sector.
"Any dividend needs to be shared between private-sector as well as public-sector workers. This has more to do with Labour desperate to keep the unions on side," he said.
However, Mr Howlin yesterday passionately defended the merits of the deal, saying it allows the Government and the country to have certainty.
Read more: €566m: the price of public sector votes
"The pay deal ensures industrial peace in the public service for the next three years. It allows Government to plan with certainty and focuses pay recovery on the lowest paid first," he told the Sunday Independent.
"As pay in the private sector is already in recovery, it maintains the central platform of reform and innovation in all areas of the public service. Every citizen and business depends on an efficient and effective public service. This deal ensures that managers have the tools to provide it," Mr Howlin added.
Subject to union agreement, the pay increases will begin on January 1 next year.
The first phase will see the pension levy threshold increase from €15,000 to €24,750.
The second phase of pay increases to take effect from September 1, 2016, will see the pension levy threshold increase to €28,750. The combination of these measures in 2016 will improve all public service full-time incomes by around €1,000 per annum.
Then, in 2017, annualised salaries up to €65,000 will increase by €1,000 per annum.