End to increments would penalise lowest paid in public sector

FERGUS FINLAY has, for the third week in a row, argued the case for a freeze on public service pay increments. While we don’t doubt the sincerity of his appeal for fairness and equity across all sections of society, his proposal would penalise the lowest paid in the public service, especially younger workers who are struggling most.

The number of increments on each workers pay scale varies significantly according to each grade. Secretary and deputy secretaries have single point scales and therefore have no increments. principal officers have six increments, assistant principals have seven. Further down the grades you’ll find executive officers with 11 increments of scale and clerical officers with 13.

This means that lower paid public sector workers have much further to travel before reaching the top of their salary scale, while the higher paid reach the top of their scales after a much shorter period of service.

It is highly likely that many in these higher posts already have reached the top of their scales and so would be unaffected by Mr Finlay’s proposal. A freeze on increments would, therefore, have an immediate and disproportionate effect on younger public service workers, and lower paid workers with shorter service regardless of their age.

We know from our own members that this would mean workers with larger mortgages (and the likelihood of negative equity), young families or workers at a point in their lives where they hope to start a family or secure a home.

These are the same workers who have committed themselves to the programme of change and improved service delivery under the Croke Park agreement.

They are the workers who will face the challenge of making sure there are no gaps or shortfalls in our public services as the number of workers are reduced by tens of thousands.

To lose their increment (which will probably be swallowed whole by new budgetary measures), on top of whatever else the budget will bring, would have a crippling effect on them. There would remain a huge inequity as their more senior colleagues remain unaffected.

Scratching the surface of Mr Finlay’s proposal only exposes the inequality at the heart of it.

Ciara Browne, John Collins, Brian Furey, Andrew Hayden, Joe May, Ian McDonald and Peter Murtagh

On behalf of the IMPACT trade union’s Young Members’ Committee

IMPACT trade union

Nerney’s Court

Dublin 1

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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

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