WP comment on national pay proposals

Don't saddle public sector workers with failure of private enterprise

Michael Finnegan
WP President Michael Finnegan

Michael Finnegan, President of the Workers Party, has stated that the new national pay agreement has saddled public sector workers with the burden of paying for the avarice and failures of the private sector. “Over the past ten years” said Mr Finnegan “the bankers, the builders, the speculators and the senior managers in every PLC have made obscene profits and salaries. These people are secure for the rest of their lives and many have secured their assets in tax havens all over the world.

“Now, with the first bite of recession, the hammer is being put on the public sector workers. There has been a concerted effort over the past few months to denigrate the work of the public sector and to give the impression that all public servants are overpaid and underworked. This is a not only a gross insult to thousands of people who have dedicated their lives to the betterment of this state but is also a very deliberate attempt to divide workers along public / private sector lines. Today’s pay deal is a further attempt by employers to advance that agenda.

“The Workers Party believes that the basic requirement of any pay deal is to protect the existing living standards of workers – in other words wages must be inflation proofed. We cannot see how this deal will achieve that goal.

“A specific target of the trade unions must be to help the low paid, the working poor. These families are the most affected by food and fuel inflation which is running at a multiple of the overall inflation rate. It is difficult to see how a mere 0.5% in 21 months will protect and advance this sector of the workforce. We reject completely the claims by ISME that this deal for low-paid workers will cause unemployment. For fifty years wages were at poverty level in this country and yet the ISMEs of this world and their predecessors whinged and cried every time workers got an overdue increase.

“The threats by the CIF, led by the professional whinger Parlon, cannot be taken seriously. The problems in the construction industry do not stem from workers’ wage levels. They come directly from the gross profiteering, some would say racketeering, by the land speculators who pushed the site price for a family home to over €250,000. If Mr Parlon wants somebody to have an income freeze perhaps he should look closer to home.

“At this time” concluded Mr Finnegan “when capitalism globally is in crisis it is important that workers maintain unity. Workers, through their unions, must fight to maintain and strengthen their pay and conditions. All attempts to divide workers must be resisted. Only through unity and a strong trade union movement can workers achieve the wages and conditions to which they are entitled".

Issued 17th September 2008

Peace, Work, Democracy & Class Politics