Thursday 14 December 2017

Vote against pay cuts, top earning civil servants told

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said workers recognised the importance of frontline services being protected
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said workers recognised the importance of frontline services being protected

Ed Carty and Lyndsey Telford

THE highest ranking and paid civil and public servants are being advised to vote against the one billion euro state pay deal, it has been revealed.

As trade union chiefs at Siptu announced pay cuts among its biggest earners, the 2,700 members of the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants (AHCPS) were urged to vote No to cuts.

The executive's rebel stance made it the first union to remain in negotiations and then to publicly oppose the deal.

Read the full Labour Relations Commission proposals here

General secretary Dave Thomas said the decision to recommend a No vote was not taken lightly.

"AHCPS members have already suffered pay reductions of between 15% and 17% before tax and USC (universal social charge) increases are taken into account, in addition to extra working hours," he claimed.

"In addition, these proposals raise legitimate questions as to the actual value that the Government currently places on the work carried out by civil and public servants."

The pay cuts will be put to the vote in the AHCPS and other unions, the results of which are expected to be known in mid-April.

The largest salary reductions will apply to those being paid the most and a top public servant on €200,000 would see their pay cut to €185,350.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny insisted the staggered wage reductions, above a €65,000 salary, are fair and proportionate.

As unions inspected the small print of the long-awaited agreement, Mr Kenny said there was no acceptable alternative to the one billion euro pay deal - designed to replace the Croke Park agreement and running for three years from July.

"This is an issue for everybody who puts their shoulder to the wheel and makes a contribution," Mr Kenny said.

"This is a fair and proportionate contribution across the board. Those who pay the most earn the most."

The Civil and Public Service Union (CPSU), which represents 12,000 mostly lower-ranking and lower-paid state employees, said it will launch its "Nothing More to Give" campaign.

The CPSU walked out of the talks along with the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), the Unite union and the Irish Medical Organisation on Sunday night.

The union described the work reforms and cuts as "too deep, too wide and too unfair".

Straight pay cuts as a result of the deal will mean someone on €100,000 would be down €6,000 to €94,000 and someone on €160,000 to €149,100.

Increments are also being delayed, premium rates for overtime are being cut and special rates like the so-called "Twilight" money paid for working 6-8pm would also stop.

Mr Kenny claimed the frontline services were being protected in the deal.

"This is a challenge for everybody and nobody likes that things need to be reduced or cut back, but the trade unions who stayed in the discussions did make significant improvements and alterations to the initial proposals," Mr Kenny said.

"And for that, they have protected the frontline services by making adjustments to the negotiations that took place here."

As union members prepared to read the document, the country's largest public sector trade union, Siptu, said that its national officers will be taking pay cuts in line with the new proposals.

General president Jack O'Connor, vice-president Patricia King, who negotiated the public sector pay deal, and general secretary Joe O'Flynn said higher earners should have been taxed more in the Budget.

"It is our view that people on higher incomes should have made a contribution through taxation in Budget 2013. We have specifically argued for a levy on those earning in excess of €100,000 per annum," the three senior trade unionists said in a statement.

"We had intended to declare our intention to take a further pay reduction on the basis that everyone on higher rates of pay should be contributing more through taxation but decided to await the outcome of the public service talks."

The AHCPS, which represents mainly high-ranking civil servants and the non-commercial semi-state sector, also urged the Government to look at tax reform.

Siptu said its cuts would be cut in line with the Labour Relations Commission wage reductions.

"Once again, we reiterate our view that the proper way to secure a contribution from everyone on higher incomes should be through progressive taxation and should not be just imposed on people working in the public service," the three leaders said.

Siptu also insisted that its pay rates have not been linked to public sector rates for more than 20 years.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams claimed the deal was an attack on frontline workers and accused the Labour Party of splitting the trade union movement.

"It does little more than tinker with excessive pay at the top," he said.

"Labour has failed to protect those on low and middle incomes, either in the private or public sector."

Mr Adams added: "The fact is that frontline workers did not cause this crisis. The Fianna Fail leadership and the other elites - the golden circle - caused this crisis.

"There are alternatives. The Government could have brought in a wealth tax. It could have also introduced a third band of tax on those earning more than €100,000."


Press Association

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