Thousands To Take Part In Protests

Tens of thousands of people are expected to take to the streets today in opposition to the Government's mooted plans to cut public sector pay.

The march, organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu), is part of the union's National Day of Action, and is taking place in Dublin, Waterford, Tullamore, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Sligo and Dundalk.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen has spoken out against the action, saying the protests and industrial disputes would not resolve the country’s economic problems.

He told an economic conference in Dublin yesterday a cut of €1.3 billion in the public sector pay and pensions bill would have to be implemented in the budget.

But he said the Government was anxious to work with trade unions to find an agreed way of securing these savings.

However, the ICTU has rubbished Mr Cowen's claims this morning, saying they wished to "state clearly that there are currently NO talks taking place between Congress and Government on a possible new National Agreement".

"The only discussions currently taking place are those between the public sector unions and Government as their employer, on possible reductions in the public sector pay bill and related matters," the spokesman said.

Mr Cowen also again ruled out the proposal by the union to raise the top band of income tax rates to 54% next year

Speaking on RTÉ’s Prime Time last night, Mr Cowen said: “The present situation isn’t sustainable, and we have a vision for the public service in the future. It will be a smaller service which will be one that has been outlined in various reports and need to get on with that project.”


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