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Varadkar strikes out the significant pay rise for government employees

Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment has strikes out the significant pay increment for government employees in the next public service agreement.

But he described the pay inequality for post-2012 recruitment as unfair.

Mr Varadkar had said these thing while addressing a webinar on low pay for the Think Tank for Action on Social Change (TASC).

Mr Varadkar said that there was a general obligation from everyone that because of the high level of borrowing that the Government is incurring both this year and next year due to the pandemic, “… the capacity for significant public sector pay increases just isn’t there”.

Meanwhile, Mr Varadkar made it clear that these statements did not mean that nothing should be done. 

He explained that he did not favour general across-the-board pay rises of 1% or 2% or whatever, as unavoidably they did not make a large change in people’s lives, resulted in the best-off getting most in cash terms, and didn’t do anything to reduce inequality or to deal with low pay. 

In its place he said the next public service pay agreement should focus on the lowest paid staff in the public service, and he said there are a lot of them in these category.

He put forward the idea of “flat cash amount increases” through which they could be helped.

Mr Varadkar also said any proposed deal should focus on the unsettled issue of the “running sore” of recent candidates who joined the public service from 2012 onwards. He said the post-2012 entrants were not essentially all on bad pay by any means.

“Teachers, for example, are very well paid in Ireland, with very high starting salaries, and the same would apply to other areas too – but it’s something that’s unfair and was never intended to last forever”, Mr Varadkar said. 

He also added that there is an agreement to close the gap by 2026 but perhaps that could be done a little bit quicker. 

The existing Public Service Stability Agreement expires at the end of December. 

Last week, the largest public service union, Forsa, which represents 80,000 of the state’s 340,000 workers, confirmed that talks with a successor were intensifying.

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