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Leaders' Questions

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 800 No. 4

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Leaders' Questions

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I beg the Ceann Comhairle's indulgence to wish the Taoiseach a happy birthday. Is it the Tánaiste's birthday as well?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Yes.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The birthdays are about the only thing that unite both of them at the moment but the Taoiseach should enjoy the day nonetheless.

I raise the issue of the aftermath of the Croke Park II deal and the vote by public sector workers to reject the deal presented to them by Government - a deal we said was unfair and had a disproportionate impact on front-line workers, in particular. I also criticised the strategy deployed to get this deal through which was a combination of dividing and conquering workers, a bit of bribery at the end and when all else failed, old-fashioned intimidation and threats, which ended in abject failure.

When we raised this issue last week, the Taoiseach said the Government was going to take time out to reflect on the vote. It seems the reflection did not really last more than 24 hours because the Estimates were rammed through committee and included the savings earmarked in the pay deal. In essence, the Estimates on which we will be asked to vote today contain the €300 million the Government expected to realise as a result of the deal the workers rejected last week.

While the Minister has asked the chair of the Labour Relations Commission-----

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin The Government.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Government. Sorry, I thought the Minister, Deputy Howlin, was leading the charge on this. In any event, the Government asked the chair of the LRC to reconsider while at the same time throwing it out there yesterday - of course, it may take it back again - that there could be compulsory job losses in the public sector. The Taoiseach said there really is only a fortnight and people must come back to the table but meanwhile the Estimates are being rammed through. We do not know of what the €300 million will be made up.

Sources close to the Government have said the legislation the Minister, Deputy Howlin, promised in regard to the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act, the Pensions Act and the Payment of Wages Act will be brought in. That is what the Taoiseach seems to be confirming. In essence, there seems to be a pretence that we really want to enter into renegotiation but in reality that will not happen. Will the Taoiseach confirm to the House that it is the Government's real position to force the pay deal through and bring in the legislation, the Minister, Deputy Howlin, promised some weeks ago in this context of this deal and that the legislation is actually ready to go?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I thank Deputy Martin for his good wishes. I will pass on the same to the Tánaiste.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae He will be delighted.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The House might indulge me for a moment as this is job shadow day and young people are working with various public representatives through the Irish Association of Supported Employment. Two young men, Michael Dunleavey and John Hynes, are shadowing me today and they are in the Visitors Gallery. I just wanted to recognise that.

In respect of Deputy Martin's question, the position is that the unions held their ballot and made their decision. The Government reflected on this and has asked the LRC to engage with the 21 unions to see if there is a basis for negotiations because, as I said before and as has been very clearly confirmed by the Minister, the bottom line is that the requirement for €300 million must come from the payroll package this year, rising to €1 billion by 2015. The LRC will engage genuinely with the unions to see if there is a basis for that. That is the first step Government instructed following the announcement of the vote by the unions.

It is not true for Deputy Martin to say the Estimates are being rammed through. For whatever reason, his people walked out of the committee dealing with the Estimates yesterday. I remind the Deputy that in his pre-budget submission, the cuts he was looking for this year were of the order of €350 million, which was more extensive and deeper than what was negotiated.


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