Pay increases of up to 10% for high-earning public sector workers are an “insult to ordinary workers”, according to People Before Profit.
Top public servants, earning more than €150,000 will next week see their pay restored to pre-austerity levels.
The move will see around 4,000 high-earning workers - including medical consultants, judges and senior civil servants - getting increases of between 1.7% and 10%.
It is expected to cost the taxpayer around €60m per year.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy said the restoration is a “slap in the face” for ordinary workers.
“This is literally on the same day the Government told ordinary people they are going to have to wait until the Budget for measures addressing the cost-of-living crisis and the day Ireland is revealed by Eurostat to be the most expensive country in Europe.
“Then, later that same day, the Government says well we have no choice. We have to give an extra €15,000, €25,000 a year to 4,000 extremely well-paid people who are already on €150,000 plus.”
He said the restoration is a “political choice” – insisting that the €60m could instead be used to offer fuel allowances to 150,000 struggling households.
Also on the show, Fianna Fáil Senator Lisa Chambers insisted the restoration was not a “choice” for the Government.
“We have an agreement in place,” she said. “This is the unwinding of FEMPI – The emergency measures that were brought in during the financial crash where all public sector workers had their pay cut.
“This is last tranche of workers to get their pay restored. It is not an increase. It is a restoration of pay.
“I fully accept the timing is not good on this, let’s be honest about that, we’re in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, but the government is under a legal obligation to follow through on this.
“If they don’t, they could be brought to court, and it could cost the State more.”
Deputy Murphy said the Government could introduce legislation preventing the restoration whenever it likes and it would pass with a strong majority.
“They could make the argument very clearly that there is a financial emergency, and it cannot be justified to give more money to higher earners when so many people are struggling to buy groceries to heat their homes or fuel their car,” he said. “We need to make different choices.”
Senator Chambers said that would undermine the Government’s position in all future pay talks.
“The suggestion that the Dáil can just legislate to break contracts … we are in the middle of public sector pay talks,” she said.
“What kind of message would that send to public sector workers right across the country. That the State has no interest in honouring agreements and will just legislate to break them whenever it sees fit.
“We have to honour our agreements and do what we said we would do.”
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