Thursday 19 April 2018

Those on 10pc lower rates are right to feel that the 'ladder was pulled up on them'

Civil, Public and Services Union leader Eoin Ronayne Photo: Steve Humphreys
Civil, Public and Services Union leader Eoin Ronayne Photo: Steve Humphreys

Anne-Marie Walsh

It must be tough to work beside someone who's doing the same job as you for €8,000 more.

If you are a public servant and work somewhere like the passport office, it's partly fair. You may have only joined last year, while your colleague who joined six or seven years ago has since gone up the same number of points on the incremental pay scale. This gives them roughly an extra €1,000 every year. And you'll eventually get those increases as time goes by.

What might be harder to stomach is the fact you are starting on a pay scale that is 10pc lower than theirs was. There was little unions could do when a 10pc pay cut for new recruits was imposed as part of an emergency budget in 2010.

Since then, they have scored a major victory by having the old pay scales merged with the new ones.

This means new recruit's pay is not 10pc lower at every point as they travel to the top of their pay scale.

But there are around two or three new points from entry level that are 10pc lower which they must endure before they reach the old, higher pay scale.

It's those early points that are causing hardship, especially when coupled with the abolition of allowances for new entrants.

To compound this, teachers and gardaí do not know how long they will have to linger on these lower rates as they have not signed up to the Lansdowne Road deal and are, therefore, subject to an increment freeze.

Many unions point to their success in almost ending the two-tier system under the Haddington Road agreement.

They also point out that the Lansdowne Road deal that is refunding about €2,000 of pay and pension levy cuts is geared towards the lower-paid.

A union's job is to represent their members and their members are largely on the old pay scales. But they need to have an eye to the future.

As recruitment kicks off again, those on the lower entry rates must feel the "ladder was pulled up" on them.

Are they right? Quite frankly, yes, they are. The leader of the Civil, Public and Services Union, Eoin Ronayne, did not mince his words when asked about it.

"It wasn't an issue when there was no recruitment," he said.

"If we pulled up the ladder, sure there was nobody at the bottom of the ladder - but now they are at the bottom of the ladder looking up and saying, 'What did ye do to us?'

"For us at the time, it didn't really matter because there was nobody at the bottom, but now we have to deal with it."

Irish Independent

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