Labour Wades Into Public Sector Pay Debate

The Labour Party leader has stepped into the ongoing fray over mooted public sector pay reductions.

Following recent urges to the Government from think tanks and even indications from the Taoiseach that public sector pay should be reduced, Labour leader Eamon Gilmore has said there is "no justification" for cutting the pay of low-income public workers.

This morning, Mr Gilmore said there was a big range of salaries in the public sector and that his party's proposal to cap the top level of pay was very different to somebody "on five or six hundred euros a week" who were already "strapped attempting to make ends meet".

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Glimore said: "We have to be very specific, some people are in a better position to take pain, and some are not in a position to take pain at all.

"We need to be talking as a country about having a more equal regime in pay. There is a need and is scope for cutting pay of people who are paid very, very highly, but there is no case and no justification to cut the pay of people who are on the minimum wage and who are on low incomes and can't afford it."

The comments come a day after Taoiseach Brian Cowen signalled pay reductions in the public sector could be back on the agenda for the government as it attempts to deal with the budget deficit next year.

This week, several leading economics experts have come forward recommending a cut in public service salaries, with An Bord Snip has warned "there is no other option".

Chief Economist at the Board, Colm McCarthy, said the government has no option but to cut public sector pay and social welfare.

He added that Ireland could not go on borrowing 10% of its GDP or the situation would soon be similar to how it was in the 1980s, when it took a full ten years for the economy to recover.

Meanwhile, The Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) today called on the Government to implement "significant" wage cuts in the public sector in line with those in the private sector.

In a statement, ISME chief executive Mark Fielding said: “With negative inflation remaining at minus 5.9%, the economy will never be in a better position to realign its cost base with that of our competitors."


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