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Government must tackle excessive pay in the public sector – McDonald

19 October, 2011 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Speaking in the Dáil today Sinn Féin spokesperson on public expenditure and reform Mary Lou McDonald TD welcomed the Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme) Bill but criticised the government for not tackling the excessive pay and pensions arrangements currently enjoyed by the upper echelons of civil and public sector.

Deputy McDonald said:

“The State’s burgeoning public sector pension bill cannot continue to go unchecked. Attempting to address the inequities of the current system which unduly favours the higher echelons of the public sector is a positive step.

“It appears that poorer paid workers will have better protection in the new scheme and on principal calculating public sector pensions on the basis of ‘career average’ earnings rather than final pay makes sense.

“Confusion remains on the so-called ‘enabling clause’ which has been interpreted as allowing the new scheme be applied retrospectively after 2014.

“Sinn Féin has long advocated for a mechanism linking post-retirement pension increases to an agreed benchmark, copper fastening the right to an adequate replacement income in old age.

“However a number of assumptions are made within the legislation, some of which do not stack up.

“It also appears that the career averaging approach is actually not as straightforward as the Minister has presented heretofore.

“Public sector workers who take time out to look after their children or take up a position on a lower grade may be inadvertently disadvantaged by the new pension scheme. These anomalies will disproportionately affect women which leads me to ask the question, has the legislation been gender proofed?

“Of course the elephant in the room is the out-working of the new scheme in the absence of addressing the inequities of the existing or old schemes. We will now have a two tier workforce in the civil and public sector.

“The new scheme only deals with new entrants and fails to tackle the excessive pay and pension arrangements for the big boys across the upper echelons of civil and public sector.

“The country is in crisis yet judges; hospital consultants, County Managers, the President and indeed members of the Oireachtas will continue to enjoy pay and pensions that would make their European counter parts’ eyes water.”

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