Saturday 18 November 2017

Restoring pay is now a priority, say public servants

PSEU chief Brendan Lawless
PSEU chief Brendan Lawless
Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

Civil servants have warned that there will be no more concessions in return for restoration of pay.

Brendan Lawless, president of the Public Service Executive Union (PSEU) said restoration of pay was the number one priority for members of his union which represents middle-ranking civil servants.

The head of the union, which represents around 10,000 mid-ranking public servants, said the time is now right "to begin restoration".

Speaking at the start of its two-day annual delegate conference in Killarney, Mr Lawless warned: "I want to emphasise to those representing the official side that this will be purely about restoration and there will be no further concessions in return for restoration of pay.

"There may be plans in some government quarters to seek more changes and it may seem like an adroit plan to some people, but it does have two major flaws.

"One, we have already given all that we can give and two, we have already given all that we can give.

"We suffered a huge burden of adjustment during the crisis and the time is right to begin restoration," he added to applause from almost 370 delegates.

His comments were echoed by PSEU general secretary, Tom Geraghty, who criticised warnings from Government ministers that any pay rises must be linked to productivity.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar and Jobs Minister Richard Bruton have already said that such pay increases can only be considered as part of an agreement that delivers increases in productivity.

Mr Geraghty said these comments were "unhelpful" ahead of any pay discussions.

"In a way this is a response to the two Government ministers that they were going to seek productivity as part of this, which was rather unhelpful when we hadn't even engaged," he told the Irish Independent.

"And we need to be equally clear that there is an expectation on the part of public servants that we're getting our money back and that there's no question of having to give something for that.

"We're making it very clear there is an expectation on the part of public servants that the sacrifices imposed on them will be wound back."

Loopholes

Public servants have endured pay cuts of 14pc as well as changes to their conditions of employment since 2009.

The PSEU also called for a closure of the "loopholes" that allowed international companies to avoid taxes.

Mr Lawless said it wasn't fair that public sector workers had had their wages slashed, while transnational corporations were avoiding taxes.

He said more than 56,000 tax inspectors had been cut throughout the EU at precisely the moment they were most needed to investigate those corporations.

Senior Labour Party members have said the party is committed to restoring pay rates for State employees this year.

"We as a party are committed to seeing the end of the financial emergency and hopefully restore cuts," said one Labour minister.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin will shortly begin talks with the public sector unions, which he hopes will deliver a new pay deal and wind down financial emergency pay cuts.

He has said the rounds of wage cuts have been "unprecedented".

Irish Independent

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