TAOISEACH Brian Cowen will be under further pressure to forgo a major pay increase due later this year after his British counterpart, Gordon Brown, froze his own salary.
Mr Brown said accepting a pay increase would be inappropriate at “a time of economic uncertainty”. His ministers’ salaries will also be frozen.
In taking the move, Mr Brown was hoping to set an example at a time when his government is calling for pay restraint generally.
Mr Cowen, currently on a salary of €278,617, is facing an almost identical set of circumstances.
Inflation is rising, meaning people are paying more for food, heating, and fuel for their cars. At the same time, however, the Government wants the trade unions to moderate their wage demands in the talks on a new national pay agreement because of the deteriorating economic climate.
But while Mr Cowen and his ministers are urging restraint from the unions, they still have not made clear whether they will postpone massive pay increases due in phases from September.
Under those increases, Mr Cowen’s salary would gradually rise by some €38,000 to over €316,000.
Ministers’ pay would rise by approximately €24,000 to more than €240,000.
The Cabinet originally agreed to accept these pay increases last year, only to subsequently defer them to this September following public outcry.
Mr Cowen hinted in recent weeks that the Cabinet might be prepared to forgo the increases if the social partners showed a similarly responsible approach in the pay talks.
But he has yet to state categorically that the Cabinet won’t accept the increases.
Even without the €38,000 hike, Mr Cowen is already one of the best-paid leaders in the world.
His current €278,617 salary places him ahead of Mr Brown and US President George Bush, as our table shows.
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