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Estimates for Public Services 2013

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Snippet Contents:

The question before the House is whether or not we should vote through Revised Estimates for this year that include the Croke Park II formula. On the basis that Croke Park II has been overwhelmingly rejected, I honestly believe this will be seen as an insult by the 290,000 public sector workers. It would be very unhelpful to the ongoing and sensitive negotiations to find an acceptable agreement and it would be a symbol from this Government that says "We do not care for collective bargaining if we do not get the answer we want, and we will carry on regardless".
One substantive reason has been given by both the Minister and the Taoiseach, namely, if a vote is not taken in the next number of days, the funding for the shared services centre ends. I fully support the shared services centre and I would not like to see that happen. Therefore, let us vote through the funding for the shared services centre and that only. I believe public sector workers would appreciate that.
With that done, why would the Government vote through the rest of the spending at this time? The Minister and the Taoiseach have given reasons as to why this might happen. They have both said it is normal procedure and that it can be changed later, and they have both intimated that public servants would understand the situation the Government is in. I do not believe they would understand that, having gone through a democratic process and having overwhelmingly rejected the deal on offer, they would see this deal voted into law by the Government just seven days later.
The public servants to whom I have spoken feel that not only was Croke Park II unfair and unacceptable to them but that, throughout the process, they were condescended to, insulted and bullied. This vote will be seen by many public sector workers as a continuation of that tone and approach. The point is that this problem is very easily solved. There are three things we could do. The first is that the Minister could withdraw today's vote on the expenditure for his Department. The second is that he could bring through a vote tomorrow, which I would fully support, for the shared services centre only. The third is that this would give time for the ongoing and very sensitive negotiations on the target of €300 million, a target I accept. However, I do not accept that the way to do it is to target pay and pensions. I believe there is vast waste in the public sector that should be cut before going after pay and pensions, and I believe that is one of the reasons the deal was rejected.
On the basis that the issue we have before us today is an easily solved problem, and that this vote will be seen by public sector workers as a deeply disrespectful snub from this Government, if the Minister and the Government proceed with this vote, one can only conclude that this is actually part of an ongoing hostile negotiation. As such, Dáil Éireann should firmly and roundly reject it.