Strikes: Government being held to ransom by unions, says ISME

Unions have been accused of holding the Government to ransom “to profit the few” by small and medium business owners.

The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) has hit out at the Government’s reaction to the narrowly avoided Garda strike and the ongoing strike plans by some second-level teachers.

ISME chief Neil McDonnell said the position of the unions was “unsustainable”.

“Public sector pay restoration threatens to unravel the progress and sacrifices made by Irish workers over the last eight years. If the Government reneges on the current agreements we run the risk of repeating the catastrophic mistakes of the 2000s. The position of the unions on public sector pay is unsustainable. Unions are holding the Government to ransom to profit the few, at the expense of the many,” he said.

Meanwhile, financial adviser Eddie Hobbs said questions need to be asked about the fact CSO data suggests pay levels have been restored across many public service grades, including gardaí, education, and health.

He pointed to average weekly earnings of €1,304 for gardaí in the second quarter of 2016, compared to just over €1,200 in 2009. Figures he showed for education employees showed average weekly earnings at €904.57, around the same as in 2008 but slightly higher than in 2010 or 2011. While the averages may be skewed by the fact hiring restrictions mean fewer recent and lower-paid entrants, he said significant numbers of older and higher-paid public servants left under early retirement.

“It’s all to do with how salary increments are driving rises in average pay, of gardaí or teachers, which means they are back above what they were paid in 2008 or later years. There has been a crushing burden on young people who have gone into public sector professions on lower pay, but that is being addressed and they are not the only ones experiencing appalling rent rises and taxes.”


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