Bitter pill of public sector pay restoration for the highest paid means public sector talks must restart now

22 June 2022

Commenting on the public sector pay restoration, Labour employment spokesperson Marie Sherlock has today (Wednesday, 22nd June) said Government must urgently re-start public sector pay talks and put adequate pay increases proposals on the table for low and middle paid public sector workers.

Senator Sherlock said:

“Public sector unions have rightly said they will not come back to negotiations until the Government puts meaningful proposals on the table. Government must realise now that it is storing up a summer of serious discontent if it fails to sufficiently address the hardship of real pay cuts that many workers, working in the public sector and those benchmarked to public sector wages rates are now experiencing.

“It was telling to hear the Tánaiste remark that he was concerned about the optics of the pay restoration. But it is deeds not words that will matter to workers being able to cope with mounting utility bills, rent and rising food and fuel prices.

“The reality is that according to the CSO’s 2020 administrative earnings data, 61% of all health workers in this country earn under €41,600 per annum. These are the people who went to work in the most perilous conditions during Covid, staying away from their own families and taking on additional hours in the service of the State. Meanwhile, many continue to wait for the much-trumpeted pandemic bonus payment, the delivery of which is delayed and disordered.

“We also know that 54% of all education workers earn under €41,600 per annum. This issue of low and middle pay demands government attention and we need to see a clear commitment from the government that the restoration of higher earners pay will be coupled with a desperately needed pay rise throughout the rest of the public sector.

“The changes next week come on foot of the debacle at the Department of Health where we saw the Secretary General receive a €81,000 pay rise, while the government failed to implement proper procedures on setting remuneration for the higher paid. Government needs to get its act together for working people.

“Ireland needs a pay rise. With runaway inflation and real concerns of winter energy blackouts, working people simply cannot wait any longer. The government have shown pay increases are possible when there’s political will. It simply cannot just be for the upper echelons in society. It’s time for a level of fairness when it comes to tackling the cost of living crisis in Ireland. The Tánaiste must commit to pay increases for low and middle paid public sector workers.”

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