herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

'TDs should be let decide for themselves if they want to take pay rise', says Fitzgerald

Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald Picture: Collins
Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald Picture: Collins

Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald has disagreed with junior minister Finian McGrath's statement that all TDs should forgo a planned pay increase next year.

Ms Fitzgerald said Mr McGrath - who won't be taking a planned pay increase himself - has taken an "individual decision" and that other TDs should decide for themselves.

TDs are to get a €2,700 pay increase next year and the same again in 2018 as part of a restoration of public service pay cuts.

It will see their pay go from €87,258 to €92,658.

Senior ministers have decided they won't be taking the pay increase due to them.

Austerity

Independent Alliance TD Mr McGrath - who is junior minister for disabilities but sits at Cabinet - will forgo a pay rise.

"We have just come out of a major eight years of austerity and an economic crash and I think these are exceptional times and I think TDs and ministers should take their hit and stop whingeing," Mr McGrath said.

Ms Fitzgerald, however, said it's up to individual TDs if they want to take the pay increase.

"Finian has taken an individual decision," she said, adding that "no doubt other TDs will".

Asked if she would encourage other TDs not to take the pay increase, she replied: "I would say it's an individual decision."

She said that TDs' pay rises are linked to those of other public sector workers and that this is preferable to the old system that was in place.

"I think that's better for politics overall because before politicians were accused of giving themselves pay increases and that's not good."

Separately, the former chairman of the Labour Court, Kevin Duffy, has been appointed chairman of the new body tasked with examining public sector pay.

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe is to bring a memo to Cabinet which will formally establish the new public sector pay commission.

The commission will examine all issues surrounding public sector pay as the country braces itself for a winter of industrial action.

Mr Duffy, who also heads the water commission, and his team are due to report back to the Government in the spring on the shape of any new pay deal beyond the Lansdowne Road Agreement, which expires in September 2018.

The establishment of a new commission was agreed by Fine Gael and Fianna Fail as part of the confidence and supply agreement.

Transparent

Fianna Fail's public expenditure spokesperson Dara Calleary said it is important the commission begins its work as soon as possible and that it is wholly transparent. He said issues such as entry pay to the public sector should be looked at.

The news of the establishment of the new commission comes as the Government braces itself for widespread unrest. Secondary school teachers are due to begin their strike action next week, while gardai and sergeants and inspectors have also decided on a course of industrial action.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Tanaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald brushed off questions about any contingency planning for strikes.

"I want to find a negotiated way forward and that's my focus at present," Ms Fitzgerald said.

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