IT is not surprising that Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe has insisted that any public sector pay deal will have to reflect the real value of public sector pensions.
Any other path would have been impossible in the light of the recent report by John Horgan, the former chairman of the Labour Court, who found the value of Garda pensions was as much as €40,000 a year. It seems rational to suggest that this principle can be applied right across our public sector.
The Horgan report confirms what has been obvious for far too long — this country has a two-tier, if not a three-tier, pension scheme and one of those is unsustainable and unfair. Any assessment of the kind Mr Donohoe seems to want will mean either a lower-than-expected pay rise, increased pension contributions or lower pension entitlements for most public servants. This will, inevitably, lead to a drawn-out, bad-tempered, ‘knock and drag’ which will in time be concluded without satisfying any of the parties involved.
Would it be naive, in this season of goodwill, to suggest that that confrontation be leap-frogged and that work on a new national pension begin? Pensions never get the political attention they deserve because incumbents won’t be around to see plans come to fruition. That mindset is partially to blame for the looming crisis but that does not mean we cannot devise a way of securing a decent, secure, and equitable pension for everyone prepared to work towards that end.
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