Based on the information available so far, Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Seán Fleming TD has given a cautious welcome to the public sector pay talks known as the Lansdowne Road talks.
Deputy Fleming commented, “Fianna Fáil is looking for the full details of the proposals to be published immediately so that everybody can have a full understanding of what’s involved. At that point we will be in a position to give a more comprehensive response.
“I am pleased that the key elements of this new proposals directly follow what we proposed in our position paper on public sector pay published on the 19th May last.
“At that time we said the focus should be on low to middle income earners, and that any pay improvements should include a combination of a flat rate increase and a percentage increase.
“Fianna Fáil highlighted that changes to the public sector pension levy can play a key role in improving take home pay. We also highlighted that the impact of this would be relatively small for low to middle income workers. It is for this reason that we also proposed a flat rate increase for people in the low to middle income category. In our submission we also said that further public sector reform is needed, and I welcome that this is now part of the new proposals.
“It is in the interest of the public service that there is external verification of costs and the achievement of targets. We are currently seeking clarification of the treatment of public service pensioners and the equality of treatment for newly recruited staff. The issue of part time workers, many of whom are female, must be satisfactorily dealt with also.
“A key element of our position is to ensure that improvements in take home pay of public servants are in line with general wage improvements in the economy. Both the private and the public sector should feel the benefit of improved living standards. Fianna Fáil has already called for the minimum wage to be increased from €8.65 per hour to €9.20 per hour. This translates to approximately €1,000 per annum.
“In the interest of fairness, the Low Pay Commission must report promptly so that the timing of the increases in take home pay of public servants coincides with the increases in take home pay in the private sector. The public and private sector must move in line together and neither must run ahead or lag behind the other.
“Separately the Government must address the restoration of frontline services, especially in the areas of health, education and security. This will be the real test of the Government’s commitment to improving public services for all in our community. “Finally, we will need confirmation from the Government that these pay increases are sustainable and within our fiscal targets” said Deputy Fleming.