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Public sector must decide if it's deal – or no deal

No public sector workers want to see the reductions in their take-home pay from the Croke Park II deal. Public servants have already seen substantial reductions in their terms and conditions since the start of the economic downturn.

Pay cuts on the double, the pension levy and chipping away at their increments have led to a lightening of wallets.

At the same time, a substantial level of change in the way the public sector operates has been implemented, generally with the cooperation of the workers concerned.

The majority of public sector workers want to provide a service that is efficient and effective.

Nonetheless, the Government has a duty to examine all areas of expenditure in its attempt to reduce the deficit and return the country to financial sovereignty.

Nobody is claiming the Croke Park II deal is easy.

The fact so many unions walked out of the talks showed the impact on their members' lifestyles.

The final deal protects core pay for low- to middle-income workers.

One in seven – or 40,000 of the workforce – faces a reduction in their basic wage under a new deal hammered out early yesterday.

Those earning over €65,000 a year face cuts ranging from 5.5pc to 10pc.

Working hours will be extended and there will be a significant hit to overtime and premium payments.

However, all bets are off if the deal is rejected by a majority of trade union members working in the public sector.

The Government's pledge in this regard is clear: unilateral pay cuts across the board.

Those voting in the coming days need to decide if the Government will follow through on this threat.

In attempting to call the Coalition's bluff on Croke Park II, public servants need to decide if the deal on the table is better than what will come their way if they reject it.

Finally, some real regulation for industry that helped create mess

IT may be too late for Priory Hall residents and those unfortunate enough to be living in badly-built homes, but the Government should be commended for finally bringing some accountability to the construction industry. For far too long builders enjoyed a light-touch regulation regime, with no one responsible when things went horribly wrong.

And we all know the dangers of light-touch oversight – failed banks, firetraps at Priory Hall and poorly-constructed buildings thrown up overnight and sold for hundreds of thousands of euro by greedy developers.

What an appalling vista was created, with no government brave enough to put some manners on the construction industry when times were good.

It beggars belief that no one thought it appropriate to introduce some kind of protection for consumers during a housing boom where more than 90,000 homes were built in one year alone.

But from next March, we will have it, and about time too.

There will be pressure on local authorities to enforce the rules. The Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland makes the very sensible suggestion that some of the proceeds of the property tax should be ring-fenced to ensure compliance.

A register of approved builders is also being compiled, to give consumers more confidence in the system.

However, it is important that any additional costs are not passed on to homebuyers. Employing a surveyor, architect or engineer to certify that all is as it should be is money well spent.

The modest investment in a professional, who can be struck-off and imprisoned if there's a problem at a later stage, should focus minds and ensure the mistakes of the past are not repeated.

Irish Independent