Teachers, childcare workers and doctors unions have reacted furiously to the €16,288 super junior ministers' pay hike while workers suffer a salary "inequality" in the pandemic.
The top-up pay for super juniors, who already earn €124,000, has caused huge anger among thousands of workers who are on different salary scales to their colleagues following pay cuts introduced during the last recession.
Yesterday, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said he understood the "great annoyance and anger" over the Cabinet's decision to sign off on the pay increase for three super junior ministers.
Mr Donohoe said that while he could "absolutely understand the anger that this is causing for some", the decision should be "placed in the context" of a number of measures announced under the Government's stimulus plan last week.
The minister's comments come after the Dáil on Friday voted for legislation for the ministerial salary of three junior ministers that sit at Cabinet to increase by €16,288.
Fianna Fáil's Jack Chambers and Fine Gael's Hildegarde Naughton will now get €151,000 annually, while Green Party Senator Pippa Hackett, a junior minister in the Department of Agriculture, will receive €123,186.
The Government said the legislation was enacted to ensure all ministers of State who sit at Cabinet awee paid equally.
John MacGabhann, general secretary of the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI), said members suffered pay inequality for years but the Government had refused to increase the pay for new teachers.
"We've been looking for pay equality for teachers, for those recruited since 2011 and it still hasn't been conceded.
"It's remarkable how quickly the concession has been made for junior ministers when consecutive governments have been unable to, or have been unwilling to end pay inequality in other sectors."
Darragh O'Connor, head of strategic organising and campaigns for Siptu, said: "Childcare workers have been suffering pay cuts.
"They're incredibly disappointed that despite millions being spent by the Government, junior ministers are getting pay increases, yet they're below the living wage and facing pay cuts on top of that.
"Childcare workers feel incredibly let down. Frontline workers are struggling to make ends meet.
"I don't think it's a coincidence we have a sector that's 98pc female and the vast majority are under the living wage and struggling.
"Yet those who make the big decisions are well able to reward themselves."
The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) said it strongly criticised the Government for passing legislation last week to facilitate pay increases for the three newly appointed ministers of state.
The IMO said the fact the legislation was passed within weeks of the formation of the new Government had "shocked" many consultants in hospitals who continue to earn more than 30pc less than their colleagues purely based on the date of their employment. The pay disparity was introduced by the government in 2012.
Professor Matthew Sadlier, of the IMO consultant committee, said: "The new Government doesn't want people in the same super junior roles earning different salaries, yet they're quite happy to oversee exactly the same injustice amongst hospital consultants.
"This type of hypocrisy poisons the morale of hospital consultants and is directly linked to the recruitment and retention crisis which has left over 500 consultant posts vacant.
"It is telling the Government priority is to pay some ministers more while healthcare workers get a round of applause."
Leo Varadkar seemed upset by the mere suggestion the €16,288 super junior minister top-up the Government rushed through the Dáil before its six-week summer holiday would seem unfair on those still dealing with the devastating impacts of the coronavirus.