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Unions' fury at €16,288 'super junior' pay hike

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Fianna Fail’s Jack Chambers

Fianna Fail’s Jack Chambers

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Fianna Fail’s Jack Chambers

Teachers', childcare workers' and doctors' unions have reacted furiously to the €16,288 pay hike for 'super junior' ministers, while workers suffer salary "inequality" in the pandemic.

The top-up pay for super juniors, who already earn €134,000, has caused huge anger among thousands of workers who are on different salary scales to their colleagues following pay cuts introduced during the last recession.

Yesterday, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said he understands the "great annoyance and anger" over Cabinet's decision to sign off on the pay increase for three super junior ministers.

Stimulus

Mr Donohoe said that while he can "absolutely understand the anger that this is causing for some", the decision should be "placed in the context" of a number of measures announced under the Government's stimulus plan last week.

The minister's comments come after the Dail on Friday voted for legislation for the ministerial salary of three junior ministers that sit at Cabinet to increase by €16,288.

Fianna Fail's Jack Chambers and Fine Gael's Hildegarde Naughton will now receive €151,000 annually, while Green Party senator Pippa Hackett, a junior minister in the Department of Agriculture, will receive €123,186.

The Government has said the legislation was enacted to ensure all ministers of state who sit at Cabinet are paid equally.

Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) general secretary John MacGabhann said his members have fought for pay equality for years but the Government has refused to increase the pay for new teachers.

"We've been looking for pay equality for teachers, for those recruited since 2011 and it still hasn't been conceded," he said.

"It's remarkable how quickly the concession has been made for junior ministers when consecutive governments have been unable to, or have been unwilling to end pay inequality in other sectors."

Siptu's head of strategic organising and campaigns Darragh O'Connor said: "Childcare workers have been suffering pay cuts. They're incredibly disappointed that despite millions being spent by the Government, junior ministers are getting pay increases, yet they're below the living wage and facing pay cuts on top of that.

"Childcare workers feel incredibly let down. Frontline workers are struggling to make ends meet.

"I don't think it's a coincidence we have a sector that's 98pc female and the vast majority are under the living wage and struggling. Yet, those who make the big decisions are well able to reward themselves."

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) said it strongly criticised the Government for passing legislation to facilitate pay increases for the three newly appointed ministers of state.