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Your letters, your views...
Firstly, let me declare my support for the garda unions, the AGSI and GRA, in their attempts to seek a justified (partial) restoration of pay.
Trade unions and staff associations, the Public Services Committee of ICTU, and the Alliance of Retired Public Servants should increase their efforts to correct the inequalities of the Lansdowne Road Agreement and the six Financial Emergency in the Public Interest (FEMPI) Acts introduced since 2009.
The idea that all public service workers and pensioners are treated equally, or fairly, under the LRA and FEMPI is a fallacy.
On January 1, 2016, those on salaries up to €24,000 and €31,000 received pay restoration, which was fair. The next group to receive a full restoration of the pay cut imposed on them by the FEMPI Act, 2013, on July 1, 2013, will be those on salaries over €65,000. Pay will be restored on April 1, 2017 and April 1, 2018, for those earning over €65,000, and on these dates, plus April 1, 2019, for those over €110,000.
In the interest of fairness, the next group to receive pay restoration, on January 1, 2016 or even April 1, 2017, should have been those on salaries between €31,000 and €65,000. Those between €31,000 and €65,000 will have to wait until September 1, 2017 to receive a paltry €1,000, while the much-higher-paid will have pay restored five months earlier.
This is obscene and unfair. The Public Services Committee of ICTU, and all public service trade unions and associations, should endeavour to have this obscene anomaly reversed.
Why is a pay cut being restored, in full, to those over €65,000, while the lower-paid have to wait patiently for a few partial crumbs?
A simple change, at Section 5.2 of the LRA, from the FEMPI Act, 2013, to the FEMPI (No. 2) Act, 2009, would see to that by ensuring that all public servants (including those on salaries over €65,000) would receive pay restoration.
Then, and only then, should the question of a second restoration of pay to the higher-paid be addressed.
If a ball of twine is ravelled, you do not fix it by unravelling the last, protruding six inches — go back to where the knot started and proceed from there!
Gardaí, and some other public servants, actually received three pay cuts through FEMPI (No. 2) Act, 2009; a cut to basic pay, a knock-on cut to allowances linked to basic pay, and a further cut of 5% to allowances not linked to basic pay.
The Lansdowne Road Agreement was commended to the parties by the Labour Relations Commission on May 29, 2015.
The Public Services Committee of ICTU announced its acceptance of the Agreement in September, 2015. Why did the Government not publish the FEMPI Bill, 2015, until October 7, 2015? This bill should have been published before voting was commenced by ICTU and non-ICTU unions and associations. There is also a gross inequality in the way public service pensioners are treated. Those who retired up to February 29, 2012, were given a grace period by having their pensions calculated on the previous pay-cut rates, while those who retired after that date were penalised with a pension cut based on FEMPI legislation.
Those pensions should be immediately restored (not to mention retrospectively) now that the financial emergency is over.
We hear of the plight of teachers in the staff room doing the same job, but for different pay. Well, what about pensioners who have done the same job, and given loyal service, being paid different pensions?
Any government interested in fairness and equity should now accept that this unequal anomaly has pertained for too long and should have it reversed immediately.
Sir, I was brought up to believe that if you work hard and make informed decisions, then anything is possible, including attractive financial rewards. In other words, the amount you can earn is linked to your own endeavour and merit. My political philosophy is shaped by this and that ability to earn should be based on talent and ability, i.e. a meritocracy.
Clearly, though, in some parts of the public service — the gardaí and primary school teachers, for example — it would be wrong and unfair to link pay and conditions to a meritocratic culture. The same cannot be said of politicians. When you have some TDs turning up at distressed property auctions and bidding on the misery of others, or when a TD is entitled to a teacher’s pension, even though he/she has not set foot in a classroom for 30 years, or when the leader of a political party is on record of not wanting to forego his teacher’s pension in case he is not re-elected to Dáil Éireann, then something is wrong with the system.
How much politicians can earn, in addition to their base salary, is not for me to decide, once the link between public-sector pay and their salaries is broken. An independent panel, drawn from all the social economic groupings in this country, and under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), can decide how much commission politicians can make and how it is merited. This can be reviewed and updated per general election cycle, and any disputes can be referred to the Labour Court, independent of other public servants.
Your letter writer, A Leavy, clearly believes that the status quo should remain and that politicians should be well-paid, regardless, and their remuneration linked to collective public-sector bargaining, such as with teachers and the gardaí, even though he says what they (politicians) do “is more important, and is more onerous, than the job of the average public servant” (Irish Examiner, Letters, October 31). I disagree with his reasoning and disagree that throwing them out after the harm is done is the way to go. The key to a cultural change in our democracy is to discourage the wrong type of candidate from the ballot paper in the first instance.
Will today see the launch of a new cigarette, called Garda Strikes?
I submitted to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Public Petitions a petition numbered P00025/16, namely ‘Creating a Tobacco-Free Generation’. It seeks to make it illegal to sell tobacco to anyone born in this millennium. It would not make it illegal for them to smoke, but would require that the vendor of tobacco ensure that the purchaser is old enough. As these children grow, the cut-off age would rise with them. A similar measure is being pursued in the Tasmanian parliament.
Ireland led the way with the workplace smoking ban and we could again be at the forefront in the battle against a product that kills more than half of its customers, when used in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions.
Apart from the health and revenue benefits that are bound to arise from this proposal, it is the right thing to do. The ball is now in the politicians’ court and I await action on the issue. Meanwhile, I am asking the public to support the idea.
Orwell Park View
Two government ministers [Heather Humphries and Richard Bruton] have invited the public to a three-day centenary conversation in Galway next week, November 10. The first speaker listed on ‘The Promise of 1916’, just after the Taoiseach’s address, is a historian who is opposed to the 1916 Rising.
He has written of the ‘crimes’ of one of the 16 dead men, and carried out an ongoing campaign against the good name of that hero of 1916. Who will challenge him?
Anthony J. Jordan
52 Gilford Road
With the maximisation of profit that was Halloween, the next round of exploitation is kicking off. Christmas: A time of great joy, if you are into shopping. The time of the year when TV advertising washes through the brains of the masses, showing us, again and again, the gizmos that they claim will allow the season to be jolly.
Christmas is not about religion, nor its spirit, anymore. It’s just big business. We all seem to have embraced the mantra of that villain of the film, Wall Street, Gordon Gecko, who proudly proclaimed that “greed is good.” It’s a big, eccentric circus, when people buy stuff they don’t even need, just to keep up with the Joneses. Envy is such a powerful, fickle emotion.
Christmas epitomises that feeling of ‘Do you need that seventh flat screen TV, when there are only two people living in your house?’
Stop. Pause. This is where you need to really think about what makes you happy: Good health. A warm house. Food to eat. And last, but not least, the Christmas edition of The Beano!
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