Time to consider post-crash payback

A return to national partnership agreements will be considered along with a post-emergency reversal of public sector pay cuts, ministers have revealed.

Time to consider post-crash payback

Simon Harris, finance minister of state, said the Government would have to take a decision whether to bring about a new forum for wage and reform structures as Ireland emerges from the post-crash era.

The move followed Public Expenditure Reform Minister Brendan Howlin’s announcement that talks with trade unions would commence next year on reversing some public sector pay and pension cuts.

He indicated parts of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Acts (FEMPI) needed to be dismantled as the economy returned to a steadier footing.

Mr Harris told the Irish Examiner whether a national partnership deal was needed or not would be considered as FEMPI was wound down.

“The Government will have to decide whether to go back to a national partnership deal, but that is a decision for Minister Howlin.

“Social or national partnership, whatever you call it, should it return, would have to be very different from the Celtic Tiger Ireland model, and not just be about wage increases,” he said.

“Social partnership achieved some things but I think it is important that the Dáil and Seanad have a role. I think Minister Howlin has acknowledged the natural consequences of an end to the emergency. As we come out of the emergency we can no longer use emergency legislation,” Mr Harris said.

He said increasing public sector pay would impact on the private sector. “As the economy begins to recover that is always the way, but the reality is that many firms are still facing tough times,” Mr Harris said.

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