‘There is no sense of fairness about it’

GERARD O’Donoghue, who works in the planning office of Limerick City Council admits that as a single man with no children, he can take the almost 15% cut in pay he has taken this year better than others.

However, it angers him that the formula for economic recovery has put such a heavy burden on the unemployed and the public sector, including much lower paid public sector workers while excluding the rest of the workforce.

“If I thought this was the way out of the economic situation, I would say ‘ok it’s necessary’ but the reality is that there is a hole in the public finance put there by the billions given to the banks,” he said. “We have not even increased taxes which would have been the most equitable way.”

He says he is most angry about lower earners (on less than €30,000) in the public service have to lose 5%. “They would be the most disadvantaged group within the public service. It seems like a very disproportionate cut and it seems very inequitable.”

He is also angry at the hit to his own pocket. “I have lost an awful lot through the cutbacks this year. If you add the pension levy at 7.5%, the 1% income levy and the 6% in my case from the budget, that is almost 15% in real terms that I am down in the last year. That is massive. People go on about benchmarking. For my particular grade, benchmarking worked out at 5.1% and it took several years for it to be delivered.

“I will have to cut certain things back, I just won’t be able to do them. I am lucky in that I don’t have kids and I probably have a higher percentage of disposable income but when you are talking about figures of 14.5% or 15%, the reality is that you are going to go out less, not buy as much services and that means someone in another job is affected disproportionately.”

He is adamant that workers should not now comply with the reform of the public service.

“Public servants should not play a role in the transformation. There is massive resentment. I have spoken to people in my work in the last day or two who would have been as moderate and accommodating as you could get in terms of rowing in with what the Government would have done.

“But there is no sense of fairness about the way things have gone. There was probably a bit of an historical opportunity for a negotiated future for the public service but that is now totally disregarded,” Mr O’Donoghue says.


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