Taoiseach backs 'fair' pay deal as union urges vote against it
on 26/02/2013 17:21:40
As unions waited to inspect the small print of the long-awaited agreement, Mr Kenny said the proposals, which include reduced wages, overtime and increments, will see higher earners contributing the most.
"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 Taoiseach said workers recognised the importance of frontline services being protected.
He said any alternative to the one billion euro pay deal - which will replace the existing Croke Park agreement and will run for three years from July - would not be acceptable.
The Labour Relations Commission is expected to publish the document on line late this afternoon.
Meanwhile, the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants (AHCPS) has called for its 2,700 members to vote against the cuts.
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 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 AHCPS, which represents mainly high-ranking civil servants and the non-commercial semi-state sector, urged the Government to look at tax reform.
Results of ballots across the public sector trade unions are expected to be known in mid-April.
Meanwhile, 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".
Mr Kenny said trade unions which stayed inside the talks made significant improvements to initial proposals that ensured those on the lowest wages were protected, and services remained intact.
The largest cuts in pay apply to those with salaries over €185,000, which will be reduced by 10%.
Cuts of 5.5% will kick in for salaries over €65,000, 8% to €80,000 to €150,000, and 9% to €150,000 to €185,000.
Mr Kenny said the cuts, which have also ended the so-called Twilight pay rate for working 6-8pm, will help the State achieve around a third of the savings it needs to plug its massive deficit.
"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."
Meanwhile, 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."
They said their pay 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 Féin 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 Fáil 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."