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The attacks on the public sector in Ireland

category ireland / britain | workplace struggles | opinion / analysis author Tuesday July 21, 2009 19:11author by Ciarán Ó Muireadhaigh - WSM - Workers Solidarity 110author email wsm_ireland at yahoo dot com Report this post to the editors

Surprise, Surprise, More Government Lies

From the outset of the financial mess the Irish Government currently find themselves is, they have tried pinning the blame on anyone but themselves and their big business buddies. They have been quite willing to perpetuate lies and untruths in order to deflect public ire away from themselves.

One sector of society that has borne the brunt of this is the Public Sector. The media (fed by Government sources) have done their best to paint a picture of all public sector workers as pampered, overpaid and under- worked. The main thrust of the attacks has come from papers owned by the O’Reilly empire, no surprise there; Tony O’Reilly has always been an outspoken adversary of Public Sector workers. His papers set a ludicrous figure for average take home pay for Public Sector workers at €60,000 per annum.

The truth, of course, is very far from this, and far less extravagant. Clerical Officers entering the Civil Service start on a figure just above €23,000 a year. They then receive (pending satisfactory service,) a yearly increase of €20 per week (Or 60c an hour) rising to a maximum salary of €35,000 per year after 13 years satisfactory service.

This is not, as the government-fed media would have told us, money for nothing. This is, as happens in the private sector, a rise in salary in line with experience and added responsibility. 2008 saw workers in the industrial sector receive an average salary increase of 16%, as reported, funnily enough, in the Irish Independent.

Pay-rises agreed in the “Towards 2016” pay agreement have been frozen. The 2.5% due to CPSU members in November 2008 was postponed until March 2009 and then abolished altogether. There is increased media speculation that the yearly increments will be scrapped as a cost cutting measure for the future. And the “Privilege” days that take Clerical Officers annual leave to a massive (and yet industry standard) 22 days? Word is out that these too will be abolished. This is a constant barrage of attacks aimed at the wrong sector of society - They attack low paid workers when they should be attacking the banks!

But the onslaught hasn’t stopped there. Public Sector workers get a pension at the end of 40 years satisfactory service, and are entitled to do so - they pay for it! It’s not money for nothing; In the run-up to the implementation of the Pension Levy, newspaper stories blasted Public Service workers for free (and lucrative) pensions received after forty years spent sitting on their rumps.

Again, no surprises, the media fell short on actual facts. Before the introduction of the pension levy, A Clerical Officer on €25,000 per year already paid around €832 per year into a pension fund. The government’s levy brings this to around €1,200 a year- on top of the income levy of around €600 a year. And far from lucrative, after 40 years service, the pension just about matches the state pension!

The money saved from these measures brings around €350,000 a week into the government coffers. It’s a pittance compared to the billions they are prepared to spend to bail out their pals in the banks. Young workers on not much more than minimum wage are made pay by those in power. Hitting the low paid with unjust pay cuts will not solve the current crisis. It’s time to stand up and say No Way- We Won’t Pay!

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From Ireland's anarchist newspaper Workers Solidarity 110 - http://www.wsm.ie/story/5746

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