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Irish government to impose austerity until 2020


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The Fine Gael-Labour coalition in Dublin is currently discussing a proposal from Finance Minister Michael Noonan, which imposes austerity budgets until 2020.

Although the programme has not yet been published, government officials have made clear that its purpose is to intensify the spending cuts under the bailout agreed with the European Union, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund after the programme expires later this year.

Referring to the dictates of the troika, which have ensured the implementation of a large part of the more than €28 billion of austerity measures since 2008, Noonan said, “When we leave the programme we won’t have that kind of discipline within our system any more and I want to make sure that, because of more loose arrangements, that we don’t lose impetus.”

Specific savings are expected to be outlined by the proposal, and fiscal targets will be included. Spending ceilings for the coming three years are to be presented in the 2014 budget, which will be announced in October.

Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton, like Noonan a member of Fine Gael, was explicit that the government’s strategy would be to step up the downward pressure on labour costs in order to build a “competitive economy.”

“There isn’t a crock of gold that you can dip into and create an alternative to building sound enterprises that are oriented to export markets and who sell innovative products,” he proclaimed.

The Labour Party’s Public Sector Reform Minister Brendan Howlin is playing a leading role in slashing government spending. A letter was recently issued by him to each government department, detailing percentages of budgets to be cut in the years 2015 and 2016. These are thought to include annual savings of at least three percent in the budgets of the health and social protection departments. Other departments could face annual targets of five percent.

The state pension fund will be bled dry to offer incentives to foreign investors and private equity firms to come to Ireland. The Financial Times reported that the remaining six billion euros in the National Reserve Pension Fund would be used by the government to create a “co-investment” fund.

There has been hardly any public discussion on these new developments, which will condemn Irish working people to unending austerity for years to come. These policies will worsen the conditions of misery which already prevail, including an unemployment rate standing at 14 percent.

Essential to the enforcement of austerity is the full support of the trade unions, which the government can be assured of. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) has been locked in talks with the coalition since February to reach an agreement to impose the latest round of savings on public sector workers. The successor to the no-strike Croke Park Agreement between government, employers and the unions, which expires next year, aims to save €1 billion by 2016.

The unions are currently trying to force through the Haddington Road Agreement in the face of widespread opposition among workers. In the first vote on the deal in April, a large majority of workers rejected it, including an overwhelming number of teachers, medical staff and emergency service workers.

The bureaucracy then entered new talks on a union-by-union basis in order to divide the emerging opposition. They accepted as good coin the claim from Howlin that the three year agreement would be the last time workers would be asked to sacrifice their wages and working conditions to pay for the collapse of the banks, even as he prepared to outline with Noonan proposals which will see austerity and labour market reforms continue for at least another four years thereafter.

The deal now being voted on by the public sector unions retains all of the cuts demanded by the government. It contains reductions to overtime pay, longer working hours, redeployment measures designed to cut numbers in the public sector, and the freezing of pay increments.

These measures will exacerbate the exploitation of workers who have suffered significant pay cuts since 2008. In the public sector, average wages have fallen by 14 percent, while in other economic areas it is even more. This has been an integral part of the drive by the ruling elite to permanently lower labour costs. According to one study, labour costs in Ireland fell between 2008 and 2012 by 8.4 percent.

On this basis, the Irish stock market is achieving its largest rally since the crisis. Stock values have more than doubled since a low point in early 2009, and companies are predicting that they will secure their biggest profits since that time. One trader bluntly pointed to the source of these renewed gains, telling Bloomberg, “We have to give Ireland credit for actually sticking to the reform programme and taking the levels of painful social adjustment that few countries in Europe have come close to.”

The continued expansion of profits is unsustainable, and there are already clear signs of the danger of another banking collapse. Last week, it was revealed that €3.5 billion of funds loaned to Allied Irish Bank during the near collapse of the banking system in 2008-09 would not be paid back to the state, but would be converted into preferential shares. One press article pointed out that this one move would see the state lose more money than the total savings it had planned in the 2014 budget.

The banks will likely require access to even more financial support from the government, another important factor driving the cuts. Noonan discussed this possibility at his last meeting with the IMF, in the event the banks fail stress tests scheduled for early 2014. The tests, initially planned for autumn 2013, have been pushed back amid concerns over the stability of the banks. Fitch released a report this week stating that “significant risks” still remain in the financial system.

In the absence of agreement within the European Union on allowing the EU’s bailout fund to lend directly to banks, Dublin would be faced with taking even more debt on to the state balance sheet in order to cover the capital requirements of the financial institutions, under conditions in which state debt is already greater than 120 percent of GDP.

In an ominous report released at the end of May which indicates the scale of the developing crisis, Ireland’s Central Bank pointed out that a total of €25.8 billion of mortgages were in arrears by more than 90 days, and small businesses had fallen behind with payments on loans totalling €10.8 billion. The banks have only €9.2 billion in capital to act as a buffer.

While the banks can expect to obtain full access to billions more in state resources, the latest figures point to a sharp rise in severe poverty. One in ten are suffering from food poverty, defined as an inability to afford a meat or vegetarian equivalent meal every other day, or having missed a meal over a period of two weeks because of money problems. The real number of those living under such circumstances is certainly much higher, since the figures from this report were collected in 2010. In a separate study, the Irish League of Credit Unions revealed that almost 50 percent of the population have to borrow money to meet the cost of basic bills.

via Irish government to impose austerity until 2020 – World Socialist Web Site.

Teachers’ union votes to reject further talks on Croke Park 2


THE TEACHERS’ UNION OF IRELAND (TUI) has voted in favour of a motion that instructs its executive committee not to re-enter talks on Croke Park 2 with either government or management and to reject any imposition of proposals on its memebers.

The union today held its conference in Galway, voting on several motions in relation to the proposals for the new Croke Park Agreement.

One of the emergency motions voted on today instructs the executive committee to withdraw from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) if attempts are made to impose proposals on members.

In the event that the government or ICTU tries to impose the proposals under the new Croke Park deal on TUI members, the union has voted to ballot for industrial action including strike action.

Over 80 percent of TUI members, made up of post-primary teachers and higher education lecturers, voted to reject the proposals under the new agreement in the union’s first ballot last month.

Today the union proposed that should the government move to impose any change to conditions already rejected by members of TUI in the democratic ballot of members, members will immediately desist from participating in any or all of the following:

Croke Park discussions

Supervision duties

Substitution duties

School development planning

School self evaluation

Half in/Half out meetings

Any or all teacher-based assessments

Speaking to TheJournal.ie this evening Deputy General Secretary of the TUI Annette Dolan said it was now a matter of waiting for the outcome of other ballots to get an overview of members’ opinions.

Earlier today, Education Minister Ruairí Quinn was heckled by teachers waving red cards in the air during his address at the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation annual conference in Cork.

Quinn is due to speak at the TUI conference in Galway tomorrow and Dolan said she expects he will be “received courteously” by members. She said the union always “made a point of engaging in a dialogue with the minister”.

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via Teachers’ union votes to reject further talks on Croke Park 2.

via Teachers’ union votes to reject further talks on Croke Park 2.

What of the middle class? What indeed?


How fares the Irish Middle class in the era of fiscal austerity?

There’s a piece in the SBP at the weekend that manages to encapsulate perfectly a certain world view. Under the line ‘How long will the middle class suffer in silence?’ Martha Kearns states…

“I’m as mad as hell and I’m  going to take this any more!” The iconic cry from Peter Finch’s character in the movie Network could be adapted to become a battle cry for Ireland’s increasingly distressed middle-income earner.
Spiralling ever downwards under a mountain of debt, the so-called ‘squeezed middle’ is finding it hard to breathe.

And:

This demographic of mainly private-sector workers is rarely heard on Joe Duffy’s daily radio show or seen at the latest anti-austerity march. More prone to silence, they probably don’t feel they have as much of a right to moan with the rest of them.

I find this most interesting that she should push the public/private sector divide. Though she seems a bit hesitant about it. Clearly some are public sector. It would be useful to know how they sneak in under the wire, so to speak.

Of course it’s impossible to quite make this case without it seeming, well, a little disproportionate. Hence the following sentence or two:

They are still employed, still (just about) able to pay their bills and maybe, just maybe, able to save up to go on a break to the sun for a week or two in the summer. So it’s hard to feel too much sympathy towards them.

Well yes. It is a problem. Isn’t it? I mean, why the sense of grievance when those on, say, significantly lower incomes find it vastly more difficult to do any of those things?

It’s important to remember that, while they are not covered by the Croke Park agreement, they have already had pay cuts similar to, or higher than, those mooted under the public sector deal and would be ecstatic at the idea of a pay freeze. Also, Budget 2013, with its property tax, PRSI contribution increases, motor tax hikes, cuts to child benefit and maternity benefit tax, was not kind to these people.

Looking at their pay cheques now, they would probably laugh at the term ‘middle-income earner’.

Actually, that’s nonsense, and she should know it. Now, I’m not PS myself, labouring under a contract with the PS. But… fairs fair. There have been wages cuts for PS workers long before those ‘mooted under the PS deal’. And they existed before CPI. There’s already – and she should know this, she really should, a ‘pay freeze’. Then there’s the small matter that unlike the private sector where the breakdown was some cuts, mostly wage freezes and in other instances wage increases, in the public sector there were systemic across the board wage cuts. Oh yeah, and pension contribution increases, and all the various bits and pieces imposed by CPI as well. And of course ‘Budget 2013’ impacts in precisely the same way upon public sector workers as private sector workers.

Still, perhaps it’s best that she moves onto a new target.

…it was with a heavy heart that this section of society examined last week’s new government plan for troubled mortgages, as they knew that if anyone was to benefit from it, it wouldn’t be them.
The Central Bank didn’t mess around: it warned that repossessions were on the cards and families would be losing their homes; even those engaging with lenders could lose their homes.
Of course, this is distressing news for the people who are unable to pay their mortgages. The latest figures show that around 144,000 homes are in arrears, with those already structured and buy-to-lets bringing it up to 180,000.

Now some would suggests that for all the obvious caveats that 180,000 are in a pretty dismal place and many, perhaps most, through no fault of their own but due to the excesses of a market which was cheered by political, media and economic commentators as being at the exemplar of the success of this state.

But…

However, while it is distressing, they are being offered a way out. Long-term deals could result in them downsizing to a more affordable home or continuing in their current homes with lower levels of debt, if they get some sort of write-down.

And…

But what about the 420,000 mortgages that continue to be paid? For sure, some of those people have no problems meeting their debts, but there is nothing in the plan for those who are struggling to pay their mortgages but continue doing so.

These are the people who never complain or take to the streets. They’re made to feel lucky – guilty even – that they still have a home, a job and some sort of lifestyle.

Actually that raises the thought that isn’t that precisely what PS workers are often made to feel. indeed looking back a few sentences in her own story, isn’t that what she is sort of implying?
Anyhow, back to the rationale as to why the middle class are different…

It doesn’t matter that they have worked for 15 to 20 years to get to their position in their careers only to be back earning wages they were taking home ten years ago – only now they also have a negative equity mortgage and a family to support.

And:

But [Michael Noonan] doesn’t seem to realise that the people who are not in “mortgage distress” but are in other sorts of financial distress (as a knock-on from ensuring that the mortgage is the first bill to be paid) are also no longer participating in the economy.
They are no longer buying their lunch or morning coffee, they are cancelling their health insurance and cable television subscriptions. They are getting rid of their second cars, cutting their trips to the pub and no longer paying a babysitter so that they can have a night out at the cinema.
They are scrutinising every pay cheque to make sure they have enough money in the bank to cover the mortgage and crippling creche fees, maybe even putting one or two payments on the credit card.

In a way this is amazing, if the writer is being entirely sincere. But the problem is that in a society where others are doing so much worse and that she is unwilling to expend any time on building some degree of solidarity across sectors and classes that it’s impossible to take this at all seriously.

Again, she sort of kind of sees the contradictions in her stance:

Of course, it’s hard to feel sorry for these people in a world where others are on the breadline. That’s why you won’t hear them on the radio or see them on the streets.
But you don’t have to be on the breadline or in mortgage arrears to be struggling. This group may be silent, but the evidence of their distress can be seen everywhere – in the boarded-up shops they once supported, the empty pubs they once frequented and the cinemas they no longer go to.

There’s an element of truth there, that the lack of disposable income is crushing jobs, gutting the economy. But this isn’t just about the middle class, and that class – however nebulously one can define it (and her own caveat as regards the PS early on in the piece is telling) isn’t alone in feeling the pinch and worse. Indeed it’s precisely because of the lack of interest, and yes – solidarity – expressed that the position of this supposed middle class is being laid bare as being vastly more contingent than its cheerleaders might like. And needless to say there’s no reflection on the thoughts that firstly for many in the working class the things she takes for granted simply aren’t a feature in good or bad times or that in the latter the situation worsens.

Of course this is part of a much larger process, a transfer of wealth that it would appear is quite deliberate, a shift towards making near universal the instability, the poor provision whether social or otherwise, that is a facet of everyday life for many working class people whether employed or unemployed. And yet the immediate response, the instinctive one, at least as exemplified in this piece is to go looking for people to blame. Everyone but themselves.

Which brings to mind Ben Franklin’s point that “We must hang together, gentlemen…else, we shall most assuredly hang separately.”

Social solidarity. Once gone not easy to get back.

via What of the middle class? What indeed? | The Cedar Lounge Revolution.

Secondary teachers’ union to recommend No vote on pay proposals


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ONE OF THE TWO trade unions representing secondary school teachers is to recommend that its members reject the proposed ‘Croke Park 2′ pay deal.

The Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) will ballot its 17,500 members on the deal in the coming weeks.

The union’s standing committee said the proposals from the Labour Relations Commission would worsen working conditions for teachers while also cutting their pay.

“The proposals come at a time when second-level schools are reeling from the impact of the education cutbacks including significant reductions in staffing and resources,” the union said in a statement this evening.

Senior members said public sector workers had already taken a cumulative pay cut of 14 per cent in recent years, while delivering “substantial” savings under the terms of the original Croke Park Agreement.

“The fairer way for the Government to achieve additional savings is through a more progressive tax system,” it said.

The union added that the supervision and substitution allowance – worth about €1,800 a year, which would be abolished under the proposals – would have “a disproportionate negative impact on low-paid part-time and temporary teachers” who had come rely on that money.

It also claimed that some aspects of the deal had yet to be clarified, and that it could not recommend the deal to its members while some of its impact remained unknown.

The union has become the sixth, of the 15 public service unions, to publicly recommend a No vote.

The INTO, which represents primary teachers, did not issue a recommendation; the other main secondary union, the TUI, and the university lecturers’ union IFUT are both seeking a No vote.

via Secondary teachers’ union to recommend No vote on pay proposals.

via Secondary teachers’ union to recommend No vote on pay proposals.

Howlin to public sector workers: If you swallow hard and vote yes, we’ll not be coming back for more


Would you trust this man to deliver?

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has confirmed that compulsory redundancies are not part of the proposed deal on an extension to the Croke Park agreement.

He also encouraged public sector workers to “swallow hard” and vote for the new Croke Park agreement, saying the Government would “not be coming back for more” if this agreement is voted through.

The deal, if passed, will come into effect from July and run until 2016.

“If you consider this (and) swallow hard – I know it’s not easy – and vote for this, we’ll not be coming back again and we can plan our recovery over the next three years,” he said.

He added that “hopefully the next time we sit down to discuss pay and conditions with public servants, it will be on the basis of a recovered economy and we can talk about improvements in pay and conditions. That’s our objective.”

Trade unions and the Government will today begin considering the new agreement, when they receive the finalised copy of the draft deal from the LRC.

The controversial agreement will see pay cuts of 10% for those earning more than €185,000 and 5.5% for those earning more than €65,000 a year, as well as longer working hours and lower overtime payments.

via Howlin to public sector workers: If you swallow hard and vote yes, we’ll not be coming back for more | BreakingNews.ie.

via Howlin to public sector workers: If you swallow hard and vote yes, we’ll not be coming back for more | BreakingNews.ie.

More medical card cuts on the way-budget 2013


More medical card cuts on the way

Health Minister James Reilly has said only 5% of elderly patients will have their full medical cards taken off them under eligibility changes announced with the 2013 Budget.

However, further as yet unspecified cuts to medical card entitlements for other age groups are also due to take place next year and are to be revealed in the HSE‘s forthcoming 2013 service plan.

The Department of Health old irishhealth.com are to be changes to the medical card means test next year, but so far no precise details of this have emerged. The Government had been under pressure from the Troika to tighten up on medical card eligibility.

Minister, Reilly, having promised on coming to office last year that he would abolish the 50 cent medical card prescription charge, has now trebled it to €1.50 per prescription item, subject to a monthly maximum charge of €19.50 per family. This increase has been ‘due to the current financial climate’.

Under the over 70s medical card changes, the Minister said 92% of over 70s will still have medical cards, while 5% will no longer have a full card but will qualify for a GP visit card, while the wealthiest 3% will have neither card, which is the same percentage as at present.

Dr Reilly said single over 70s earning €600 to €700 per week will lose their entitlement to a full medical card, while those earning over €700 per week already do not qualify for a card, following the last review of eligibility in 2009. The new thresholds are double for elderly couples.

Elderly people who will be downgraded to a GP visit card will now have to pay drug costs up to €144 per month, following a new rise in the drug payment scheme threshold.

GPs and other professionals providing services under the medical card and other State schemes are to have their fees cut further.

Dr Reilly told a press conference on the health measures in the Budget that €781 million will have to extracted from the health service in savings next year.

By the end of 2013, this will bring the amount cut from the health service in the previous four years to around €3.3 billion. The service is to get €13.626 billion for everyday expenditure next year.

According to the Department of Public Expenditure, this will be reduced to €13.420 billion in 2014, when further health cuts will be required.

However, Dr Reilly said the lesson over the past year had been that by reforming services, more had been done with fewer resources, with inpatient waiting lists and trolley numbers reduced. He admitted, however, that next year would pose great difficulties.

Dr Reilly stressed the need to promote a greater level of generic prescribing. He said there were some drugs that were of the same class that were one-third the price of the other drugs in that class.

There would be legislation and initiatives to promote more generic prescribing.

The bulk of the €781 million in savings will come from €323 million in primary care scheme savings – this includes the medical card scheme.

The projected savings of €323 million  in primary care schemes will come from:

* A projected €120 million from agreements with the pharmaceutical industry on drug cost cuts.

* A projected €70m from reductions in fees to primary care health professionals.

* €50m from the increase in prescription charges.

* €20m from changes to medical card means test.

* €12m from replacement of medical cards with GP visit cards for persons over 70 in excess of certain income limits.

* €10m from increasing the threshold in the Drugs Payment Scheme.

* €15m from ‘delisting’ certain products from the medical card scheme.

* €20m from promotion of more cost-effective prescribing practices by GPs and consultants.

* €5m from a reduction in reimbursement prices of oral nutritional supplements.

The remainder of the total €781 million in health service savings will come mainly from  ‘pay related savings’, as yet unspecified; increased generation of private income from public hospitals – a measure that was promised for 2012; a net saving on the Department’s vote, and savings in procurement.

Dr Reilly declined to be drawn specifically on what pay savings in health might arise from an extension to the Croke Park Agreement. However, areas such as rostering were being looked at.

Asked what level of cuts in their allocation hospitals might face next year, Minister Reilly said there would be details of hospital allocations in the HSE’s service plan when published.

Minister of State at the Department of Health Alex White indicated that the €20 million planned to be spent on primary care staffing this year but which was reallocated to cover the HSE’s deficit would be spent next year. However, there is no specific provision for this expenditure in 2013 in the Book of Estimates.

Funding is to be allocated for the initial phase of the planned free GP care scheme for people with certain long-term conditions, Mr White said.

Minister of State Kathleen Lynch said a further €35 million would be spent on mental health services next year. She said all of the €35 million allocated for development of these services in 2012 was not spent.

[Posted: Wed 05/12/2012]

via News stories about the Irish hospital system.

via News stories about the Irish hospital system.

Coalition seeks €1bn savings in new public sector deal


The Government is seeking to save €1 billion over the next three years in a new deal on reform and productivity with the public service unions.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin yesterday invited the unions to talks designed to achieve, by agreement, further substantial savings in the public service pay and pensions bill. The Government is hoping accord can be reached by early in the new year.

Unions expect one of the main changes the Government will propose is longer working hours for staff with no additional pay. Other issues such as increments, premium pay rates and possibly reforms to existing grade structures could be on the agenda for the discussions.

Senior higher-paid staff who already work flexible hours could face cuts in their overall pay levels. Earlier this year, the Health Service Executive proposed staff should work two additional hours per week for the next three years.

The Government said yesterday the guarantees set out in the Croke Park agreement, no further cuts in core pay and no compulsory redundancies, would remain in force.

Government sources emphasised that savings of €1 billion in the pay and pensions bill were required by the end of 2015 “to meet the fiscal challenges” demanded by the bailout programme.

No precise details

However, the Government side declined to spell out precisely the nature of the reforms to work practices and the new productivity measures it would be seeking.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said the Government would be seeking to secure “a significant advance” on the workplace change already delivered by public servants, and “a large sustainable additional fall in the cost of public service delivery in the period to 2015”.

“The Government is determined to meet its fiscal consolidation targets and reduce its deficit to less than 3 per cent by 2015. The gross public service pay and pensions bill accounts for 35 per cent of overall spending in 2012. On this basis, the Government considers that it is fair that it should contribute broadly one-third of the substantial expenditure consolidation that will be necessary over the next three years,” said the department.

It added that if the public service pay and pensions bill was to make the necessary contribution to the consolidation in expenditure necessary up to 2015, a new deal, setting out a new agenda for change and productivity, was necessary.

“The Government will also be seeking to secure an additional substantial reduction in the cost of public service delivery, including in 2013, through this process. We want to secure a significant evolution on the workplace change already delivered . . .” it said.

Union reaction

The public services committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions is to meet today to consider the Government’s invitation to talks on a deal. The largest public service union, Impact, will argue this should be accepted. Other unions were more cautious.

In a letter to Impact branches yesterday, union general secretary Shay Cody said members would benefit from an extension of Croke Park protections in light of dark forecasts.“The union will go into any talks with the objective of protecting members’ pay and pensions against further cuts . . . Achieving success will mean agreeing to measures that cut the public service pay bill in other ways.”

General secretary of the Civil Public and Services Union Eoin Ronayne expressed concern over whether lower-paid workers could achieve further cost savings.

via Coalition seeks €1bn savings in new public sector deal – The Irish Times – Wed, Nov 21, 2012.

via Coalition seeks €1bn savings in new public sector deal – The Irish Times – Wed, Nov 21, 2012.

Enda Kenny presses Croke Park body on need for payroll cost cuts –


English: An Taoiseach Enda Kenny

English: An Taoiseach Enda Kenny (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mr Kenny voiced the need to increase pressure to secure savings from the agreement at a meeting this afternoon.

He told the body that while the Government remains committed to the Agreement, it is facing extraordinarily difficult choices to meet its 2013 spending targets.

Mr Kenny said delays in reforms were not acceptable, and the issues around allowances must be brought to a swift conclusion.

He said the negotiations with the hospital consultants was an example of what could be achieved and the same principle had to be applied across the public sector.

Radical reforms in the local government sector will be brought to Government shortly.

It is understood that no financial target will be available until after further engagement at sectoral level.

Earlier today, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said there had been no change in his approach to allowances for serving public service employees.

Mr Howlin said that he indicated on 18 September that one category amounting to 88 allowances would be looked at with a view to eliminating them under the Croke Park Agreement.

via Enda Kenny presses Croke Park body on need for payroll cost cuts – RTÉ News.

via Enda Kenny presses Croke Park body on need for payroll cost cuts – RTÉ News.

Union pledges to do ‘whatever we have to’ after cuts in allowances announced


The country’s largest union has issued a warning to the Government regarding changes to public-sector allowances.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin announced last night that 88 payments will be scrapped for serving staff.

The full list has not been released, but it is thought to include a Gaeltacht allowance for nurses in Irish-speaking areas and a Locomotive allowance for senior gardaí who use their private cars for work.

They are set be abolished by the end of February.

However, Health Division Organiser at SIPTU Paul Bell said that they will not give up allowances they regard as part of their core salary.

“This is core pay, breach of Croke Park [Agreement], and whatever we have to do to protect our members’ pay we will do so,” he said.

“If people want to consolidate those allowances into pay, which we asked for many years ago, well then we’ll have that discussion.

“But we will not be getting into negotiations where we see the elimination or further cuts in people’s salary, that’s not where we are and we won’t be there.”

via Union pledges to do ‘whatever we have to’ after cuts in allowances announced | BreakingNews.ie.

via Union pledges to do ‘whatever we have to’ after cuts in allowances announced | BreakingNews.ie.

Coalition targets over 80 public service allowances –


TRADE UNIONS are set to oppose the latest effort by the Government to eliminate a wide range of public service allowances.

Following last month’s climbdown on reforming allowances, the Government has reopened the issue and is seeking to eliminate more than 80 allowances currently paid to serving staff across the public service.

The move comes after only one allowance for serving staff out of more than 1,000 was removed last month following a major review overseen by Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said yesterday that it wanted management in different parts of the public service to engage with trade unions to eliminate allowances for serving staff in cases where there was no business case for paying them to new personnel.

Alternatively, it said, management should seek to review allowances if this would present greater value for the taxpayer.

Last month the Government said it would no longer pay about 180 allowances to new personnel. It has now said it wants to eliminate 88 of these for existing staff as a priority.

Separately, Taoiseach Enda Kenny will today preside over a crucial meeting with the body overseeing the implementation of the Croke Park agreement to consider proposals aimed at securing further savings under the deal.

Mr Kenny will chair a meeting in his department at which Mr Howlin will present an assessment of potential savings across all 15 Government departments drawn up by Ministers over recent weeks.

There has been speculation in recent days that the Government has signalled to union leaders that it wanted to hold discussions on some form of an extension to the current Croke Park agreement.

Asked last night whether it had indicated to unions that there might be new talks on the agreement, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said: “No comment.”

Details of the proposals for escalating savings under the Croke Park agreement drawn up by various Ministers have not been made known.

However, it is understood that the Department of Health and the Department of Education have been looking at the issue of seeking staff to work additional hours. This would fall outside the scope of the existing Croke Park agreement.

Details of the Government’s plans on public service allowances emerged yesterday after a letter on the issue drawn up by the secretary general of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Robert Watt, was given to health service unions.

The department confirmed that it had sent similar letters to each government department.

Mr Howlin last night said he favoured using a dedicated fast-track arbitration process in relation to the new proposals to eliminate allowances.

Last night Siptu vice-president Patricia King said many of the allowances went back decades and were considered part of core pay. She said while the union would be open to consolidating allowances into pay, as proposed for example in the education sector, it would oppose attacks on low-paid staff.

Paul Bell of Siptu’s health division said the proposals on allowances could place staff on a collision course with the Government.

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via Coalition targets over 80 public service allowances – The Irish Times – Thu, Oct 11, 2012.

via Coalition targets over 80 public service allowances – The Irish Times – Thu, Oct 11, 2012.

Leo Varadkar- Profile


Leo “Lion mouth” Varadkar is our current Minister for Transport, Tourism, and Sport a position he has held since 2011. Varadkar was born in Dublin, the son of an Indian father and an Irish mother. He qualified from Trinity College as a medical doctor a place, which has, groomed its fair share of right wing ideological pedagogues. To attend his lectures he would have had frequently passed the bronze statue of Edmund Burke the founding father of modern-day Conservatism and free market advocate. It was in this establishment that Lion Mouth took to the yellow brick road, donned the colour blue, and adopted the mantle of the righteous right of conservative dogma. Leo becomes an ardent follower of the witches of the East and the west the representatives of International banks and Industry. His enemies were the good witches of the north and the south. For they were the careers of poor farmers, the lower classes, the middle classes and even the upper middles classes that were won’t at times to turn their backs on these honest witches.

Leo donned the silver shoes of politics and followed the brick road to Sinister House where his duty was to represent Johnny Citizen. Here he boldly stated I did not aspire to represent everyone. It is my objective to represent a particular viewpoint. I do much better in middle-class areas than working-class areas.

“I get the vote because they would respect the work I do on the ground and would have a similar viewpoint to me. They don’t think the solution to their problems is loads of welfare.” So, we now know that the Mouth shows little regard for the majority of his constituents, in fact, if they are lower class and on welfare, he is most likely to despise them.

Lion Mouth would have us all believe that he is just that little bit different from the rest of the Sinister House incumbents who, largely, he considers to be beneath him in terms of ability and intellect.

To quote the Mouth himself

“I would be, free-market centre right;

One rather obvious issue to put to free-market ideologues who still advocates the practice that ‘business’ should be free to do what it wants is; ‘ look around at the devastation in the economy. Would you say it’s caused because of a lack of free-market policies or excessive socialism?’ Welfare is not the problem. The major problem has been the gung-ho, business right, the very same people who took the wrecking ball to the country and smashed it to pieces. These men will not rebuild it; you the sucker Johnny Citizen must bear the cost of reconstruction. At the same time, these people will push the idea that we need to free up the market further if we are to progress. The principal ideas behind, “Lion Mouths” beliefs appear to be, the right of the minority to expropriate from the majority. In short, they will rig the game to ensure you pay their losses and if he has his way, you my dear friends are condemned to live in the land of shifting goalposts and crooked playing fields.

Lion Mouth is an ambitious person and has designs on higher placements within the precincts of governance. However, Le Grand Dame the Wizard and ruler of Sinister House knows the aspirations of Leo and consequently, treats him with a sense of indifference.

His appointment to the position of Minister for Transport, Tourism, and Sport, was not a post to his liking. In terms of aptitude, he appears to be unable or unwilling to contribute to the future development of Transport and Tourism. He has made a little ripple in the sports portfolio by having his own personal trainer. The ruling Wizard knows he has made a clever choice in his positioning of Leo. For he knows the frustrations of this gaffe prone, would be trujillisto, will implode due to the impossibilities of his position. The Wizard has cunningly left his department short of funds.

The Wizard keeps his own dossier on Lion Mouth. The folder is in chronological order except for the first page. The front page reads.

June 2010 Varadkar and a number of other frontbenchers stated they had no confidence in me their leader Le Grand Dame. A large majority indorsed a subsequent confidence motion in the leader. Underneath the entry he writes at no time forgive; never forget to keep your enemies close. These entries then end with vulgarities F…… Backstabber, my fury knows no bounds etc.

Skipping through the pages one would highlight the following.

Sept 2008 Lion Mouth accused of racism by the media– wants to offer inducements to unemployed migrants to return to their own country, in particular, Africans. The leader comments –This man should understand this turf better!

March 2010 criticizes our former leader, which goes down poorly with older party members.

February 2011 note the unauthorized promise… “If things go our way, there will be a new government in six weeks time, and the banks aren’t getting another cent.” How stupid.

May 2011 I note Leo declared that Ireland would very likely need a second bailout. He causes severe embarrassment to the Government even a comment from Trichet.

November 2011 The newspaper headlines read Leo slates Irish tourist trade for poor service, in particular, bar’s restaurants and shops. The Wizard scribbles rather than shoot his mouth off, why does he not introduce a grading system for these establishments.

June 2012 Varadkar has said public sector pay increments need deferring. These comments were both insensitive and unauthorized, particularly at a time when public services need restructuring. Just who does he, think he is?

August 2012 Target Express: 390 jobs to go as the firm ceases trading. Leo goes missing!

High taxes on diesel are killing coach tourism. No response from Leo, why!

Saturday the 1st of Sept. Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has said that the Government is bound to honour the Croke Park Agreement. In June, he was saying the exact opposite unprompted about turn why!

On the very back page of his dossier Le Grand Dame “Writes Lion Mouth has delusions of grandeur”. He is both self-righteous and envious because he sees lesser souls occupying higher echelons.

Dead fish have more charisma than Lion Mouth.

What he does not realize is if he ever dares to cross me again he will find out my orbs are considerably bigger than his. Come on Gaffe mouth hop a ball.

 

Cowardly Government will target the weakest


We cannot underestimate what a defining moment it was for this Government when Brendan Howlin stood up and formally admitted what everyone has known for weeks: that the Government was chickening out on cutting some of the crazy allowances paid to those who work for the bankrupt Government of this bankrupt country.

It wasn’t as if Howlin had promised the earth. His modest goal had been to cut a mere five per cent this year from these allowances — extra pay that various people who work for the Government get for everything from underwear to being on their feet.

But even the minister who is supposed to be responsible for cutting public expenditure — now a matter of grave urgency in this country — could not face down the unions in order to cut one euro in 20 from these allowances. The minister whose department apparently harasses other departments on an almost weekly basis about making cuts and efficiencies, when it came to cutting a mere five per cent from what everyone agrees are at least partially anachronistic and ridiculous allowances, couldn’t do it. He bottled it.

He bottled it even though he had the kind of cover to implement cuts that no other minister in this State will ever have, hopefully. The IMF is here and can be blamed for everything.

We have lost our sovereignty, we are bankrupt and being run by foreigners, and still Howlin couldn’t get even five per cent off these allowances. One suspects that even the unions didn’t expect to get away with that. One suspects that the unions were poised to accept at least some trimming of these allowances. But no, virtually nothing. Because when Brendan Howlin looked into it, he discovered it was more complicated than he thought and that it would in fact contravene Croke Park.

via Brendan O’Connor: Cowardly Government will target the weakest – Analysis, Opinion – Independent.ie.

via Brendan O’Connor: Cowardly Government will target the weakest – Analysis, Opinion – Independent.ie.

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