Suggestions from Fine Gael ministers that planned pay rises for public sector workers will not be paid are “outrageous” and “grotesque”, Opposition left TDs have said.
TDs across the left reacted strongly to a story in
Ged Nash, Labour Party spokesman on employment, said the long-standing pay deal is already accounted for in 2020 and 2021.
“In the context of a multibillion deficit due to the Covid-19 pandemic it would be grotesque that the first cut a new government makes would be to the pay of the workers who got us through this crisis.
“The same ministers who are falling over themselves to be first in line to tweet their thanks to our nurses, doctors, healthcare assistants are now spoiling for a fight with them,” he said.
It is two-faced and plain wrong for Fine Gael to try to divide workers at such a critical period of our national response.
“A new pay deal will have to be negotiated in the months ahead and it would be an incredible act of bad faith for the Government to renege on previous agreements before even sitting down with the trade unions that represent the workers on whom we all depend,” Mr Nash said.
He said over the last eight weeks public servants across the country have gone above and beyond the call of duty in our national effort to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Today we read comments from Fine Gael ministers saying any pay increase for public servants would not be credible,” he said.
“Some basic facts have been forgotten. The pay rise in October is the final instalment of a three-year deal and the cost of it has already been included in the budget for 2020 that was passed just months ago,” he added.
Mr Nash said the cost of the proposals in 2020 is estimated to be approximately €340m and of that a large proportion relates to health alone who are our frontline heroes right now.
“There is then a carry-on cost of €227m in 2021. What can’t be lost, however, is that these figures are already included in the budget figures for this year and next,” he said.
Solidarity TD Paul Murphy said he was “not surprised” that government ministers are beginning to say such things.
“It does not surprise me they have public servants who have done such incredible work since the crisis began in their sights,” he said.
“We are beginning to see Covid austerity being rolled out and I am sure the government may plead an inability to pay but we on the left will not accept that. Unions have to be ready to stand up and fight for their members and it is our view the deal must be honoured,” he told the Irish Examiner.
His colleague, Brid Smith, said the impact of the austerity from the last crash is still being felt. The financial emergency legislation has not yet been fully repealed so such talk is “outrageous” and “not acceptable” she said.
“The deal must be adhered to fully and no one can doubt the solidarity shown by public sector workers during this crisis,” she said.