Unions, choose your pain
IT would be hard not to get the impression that the Croke Park II talks are almost over before they even began.
The crunch negotiations are not even under way, and three unions are already crying blue murder. The gardai is considering a blue flu.
The newest critics of the proposals already tabled are 70,000 frontline staff who are opposed to cuts to their allowances and premium pay, which they see as core pay.
The problem is, as Minister Brendan Howlin said yesterday, if the Government does not get €1bn savings from the public sector pay bill over the next three years, it will get it another way.
The other way is likely to be an across-the-board pay cut averaging over six per cent.
Unions need to make up their minds which they prefer.
They need to clarify if they are opposing all cuts to premiums and allowances, or just some, or whether they will concede reductions to the most antiquated payments.
So far, only the gardai seem to have any level of detail on exactly what payments are being targeted, even though it looks like bigger payments like rent allowance are being left alone.
However, the GRA and AGSI speaks for just a small fraction of the 300,000 plus workers represented at the discussions.
The big hitters at the talks, SIPTU, IMPACT and the INTO, will be just as keen as they ever were to stop the Government legislating for a pay cut for all public servants.
Whatever happens, the Government has to get €1bn savings and that will have to hit public servants in the pocket some way.
It is up to them to decide how they want it.