Friday 23 August 2019

Glitches in pensions should be on table

'The notion of wanting to drag down employment standards in the public sector ought not be an objective'. (Maarten Wouters/Getty Images)
'The notion of wanting to drag down employment standards in the public sector ought not be an objective'. (Maarten Wouters/Getty Images)
Editorial

Editorial

Public-sector pay is poised to be a prominent political issue in 2017. Already flexing their muscles this year, the public-sector unions sense the Government is weak and will cave in under pressure.

It is becoming abundantly clear that the negotiations on the successor to the Lansdowne Road Agreement aim to do more than just reverse pay cuts initiated during the economic downturn.

Terms and conditions of employment and the entire area of pensions will also be on the table.

The prospect of public-sector workers feeling as vulnerable in their roles as their private-sector counterparts is unlikely. It's also undesirable. A greater level of accountability would be welcome across the public sector - particularly at senior managerial level. However, the notion of wanting to drag down employment standards in the public sector ought not be an objective.

As long as public-sector workers enjoy a level of job security, there is some knock-on effect in terms of conditions in the private sector.

Pensions should also be explored. Legislation in place for four years allows the Government to stop the curious anomaly of retired State workers' pensions rising when someone in their old job gets a pay rise.

The possibility of breaking the link between the pensioner and their successors in the post is very definitely going to be picked at.

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe told this newspaper the difference between public and private pensions has widened in recent years.

Glitches in the system deserve to be examined.

Judge Simon on record while Leo spins the discs

Leo Varadkar makes his debut as a DJ tonight. The Social Protection Minister will be among the guest presenters on RTÉ Radio 1’s ‘Late Date’ music show.

Not since Bertie Ahern’s appearance as a football pundit on ‘The Premiership’ 15 years ago has there been a more bemusing selection in a studio at the national broadcaster.

The Montrose management will have to be careful about their treatment of Varadkar to avoid being accused of showing a preference in the forthcoming Fine Gael leadership contest.

He already gets more soft focus coverage than any other minister in the Government. He’s probably due a frying on the pan in Sean O’Rourke’s studio one of these days, just for a bit of balance.

Varadkar’s main opponent in the leadership race, Simon Coveney, says speculation about the Fine Gael leadership is “navel-gazing” and “a distraction . . . that I don’t need”.

“The ongoing chatter around leadership . . .  it’s not something that keeps me awake at night,” he says.

Coveney’s role in Cabinet contains the double poisoned chalice of housing and water charges.

He says finding solutions to such problems are “what drives me at the moment”.

Coveney’s strategy for becoming Fine Gael leader is based on hard work and keeping the head down. He is going to judged on his record – not spinning records.

Irish Independent

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