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Unions expenditure deal with government fails

As the entire Irish populace begins countdown to the official publication of Governments proposed €1.3 billion across the public service, the Brian Cowen led Government over the weekend rejected a trade union proposal for savings to be made through staff taking unpaid 12 days compulsory leave. The much awaited last minute dialogue between Government and Ictu to explore possible cost saving avenues in public spending had hit a brick wall as the Government rejected Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ (ICTU) suggestions of compulsory unpaid holiday money for all public sector workers.

The Government’s decision to reject the ICTU proposal came after strong opposition from Cabinet members to accept the holiday alternative. The Taoiseach Brian Cowen had indicated over the weekend that the Irish public servants now face a pay cut of between 5 and 6 per cent in Wednesday 9th of December 2009 budget after the negotiations failed. The Taoiseach is said to have stormed out of the meeting and concluded that the government will forge ahead on their own to cut the €1.3 billion expenditure in the next budget through salary and other cuts.

According to proposal from ICTU, it estimates that the unpaid leave deal would have ploughed in €4,600 which is about 4.6 percent of an annual income of a service staff earning €50,000 next year. For workers earning more than this amount the cut would have been equivalent to up to 7 per cent of that workers income.

While the ICTU proposal is also seen as a good suggestion, some others like Green Party senator Dan Boyle said the proposal on unpaid leave was never going to be a permanent solution and it was not a longterm solution to tackling the costs involved in the public service. He stressed that these "Budgetary cuts in the public service were only short- and medium-term. The decisions we make have to be deep and long-term," he told RTÉ radio. He said a decision on across-the-board cuts had not been made yet and that this should come early next week. Questioned on whether the Greens took into account the swing in public opinion against the proposal, Mr Boyle said his party would have expressed its concerns over the plan during Cabinet meetings.

3 December 2009   


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