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McDonald challenges Taoiseach on basic pay of nurses and midwives

23 January, 2013 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Speaking in the Dáil this morning the Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD criticised the Taoiseach for driving down nurse’s and midwives’ basic pay while protecting excessive pay and pension arrangements for current and former Government Ministers, senior civil servants and office holders.

Deputy McDonald said:

“Over the weekend the Taoiseach took to the airwaves to threaten public sector workers with pay cuts. From the outset of negotiations on a successor to the Croke Park agreement, the Government warned of compulsory redundancies in the public sector. This is not the way to negotiate in good faith. Public posturing does citizens no favours.

“The case for public sector reform is accepted by those inside and outside the public and civil service. Equally, the case for finally tackling the excessive pay and pensions of a tiny minority at the top is now unanswerable. Government ministers, special advisers and senior civil servants all need to have their pay cut.

“The protection afforded to high rollers in the public sector contrasts starkly with the plans of the Minister for Health to slash the pay and conditions of graduate nurses and midwives. The Government is expecting these graduates to accept yellow pack jobs and greatly reduced pay rates within the health service. What happened to equal pay for equal work?

“Public sector reform will not be achieved by driving down wages for those at the bottom of public sector pay grades. In the course of the negotiations for an extension of the Croke Park agreement, will the Government defend pay equity? Will it defend equal pay for work of equal value? Will it finally deal with the glaring issue of the tiny minority within the public and Civil Service who are overpaid and over-pensioned?

“The position of equal pay for work of equal value is fundamental in any profession or job and must be defended. We had hoped the Labour Party might take a different position. The Government can slash the terms and conditions of a graduate nurse but protect its own pay and perks at every turn.

“The government is prepared to legislate for pay cuts for low paid public sector workers but it consistently refuses to legislate on the issue of the runaway gilt edged pensions of former Taoisigh and some of the Taoiseach's former colleagues. Why that contradiction? Surely, if the Government is to be fair there must be fair play all around. By any standard, young nurses, midwives and the health service are getting a raw deal.”

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