Taoiseach accused of threatening public sector jobs

Wednesday 24 April 2013 22.21
Enda Kenny has been criticised for his comments on job protection
Enda Kenny has been criticised for his comments on job protection

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been accused of "threatening" public sector workers after he told the Dáil that their jobs are not protected if there is no agreement on Croke Park II.

Opposition parties also objected to the passing of spending estimates, which include the savings under the deal, which was rejected by unions.

The fall-out from the rejection of the Croke Park II dominated Leaders' Questions this morning, with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin asking about job security for public sector workers.

The Taoiseach replied that jobs were protected under the Croke Park agreement.

But he said if there is no agreement, then there is no protection.

Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald contrasted the Government's treatment of low paid public sector workers with its failure to tackle the pay of Bank of Ireland boss Richie Boucher.

Opposition parties also criticised the Government for passing estimates of spending with the Croke Park savings built in, claiming it meant new negotiations with the unions were a sham.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said the estimates had to be passed so public servants can be paid.

He said if a different agreement was reached, he would come back to the House with amended estimates.

Yesterday, three opposition TDs, including Fianna Fáil's Sean Fleming, walked out on an estimates meeting of the Committee on Public Expenditure and Reform with Mr Howlin.

Mr Fleming said the Government is ignoring the decision of public servants to vote against the Croke Park II deal by pushing ahead with the Revised Estimates 2013 today, which contain the proposals that have been roundly rejected.

In a statement, Mr Fleming described as extraordinary the decision by Mr Howlin to plough on despite genuine requests from the Opposition to find a way to deal with this issue.

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte has said that the Government must save €300m from the public service pay bill for this year.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Rabbitte indicated the Government was open to compromise in relation to Croke Park II.

He said: "I would like to think that the Government is not wedded to the fact that it must be done one way as compared to another within that overall rubric of €300m coming out of the public pay bill.

Minister Rabbitte said: "There are always ways in industrial relations where you can tweak things this way or tweak things that way or do things slightly differently.

"Remember that part of the impetus behind this is not just the question of the rectification of the public finances, it is a question of reform how public services are delivered, how rosters and allowances, and other stipends are paid, how you most effectively deliver quality public services." He said.

Minister Rabbitte said: "So Government is amenable to creative suggestions wherever they come."

No basis for deal that focused on pay cuts - INTO

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation has said that there is no point in bringing forward the same formula for talks on cutting the public sector pay bill and expecting a different outcome.

The INTO said trade union members had delivered a decisive verdict, and three quarters of public sector workers had rejected the imposition of a third pay cut.

A spokesperson said there was no basis for a deal that would focus exclusively on cutting the pay of public servants.

The union said it had argued during the Croke Park II negotiations that the deal on the promissory note gave a boost to the public finances allowing the Government to make choices.

It called on the Government to ensure that public services benefited from the deal

The INTO argues that since then the Government has secured more favourable terms on repayment of Troika loans - and the basis for an "austerity only" policy has been discredited.

It said these developments provided the basis to re-examine both the short-term and long term budgetary position.