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 Header Item Public Sector Pay
 Header Item Capital Expenditure Programme

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 953 No. 2

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Public Sector Pay

 12. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his plans for ending pay inequality across the public sector in the context of the public sector pay talks; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [26271/17]

 13. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his plans to address the issue of equal pay for equal work within the public sector and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [26058/17]

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett This week, I went out and joined lesser-paid rank and file teachers from the INTO, the ASTI and the TUI who were protesting against the fact that there is a categorically of lesser-paid teachers - people who are employed as teachers post-2011 or 2012. They want to know whether as part of these pay talks, the Minister will commit to the principle of equality. By equality, they mean there is one single pay scale for all teachers.

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 12 and 13 together.

  The 10% reductions in starting pay for certain new entrants were introduced in January 2011 as part of the national recovery plan in order to reduce the public service pay bill by the then Government.  The issue of addressing the difference in incremental salary scales between those public servants who entered public service employment since 2011 and those who entered before that date was addressed with the relevant union interests under the provisions of the Haddington Road agreement. From 1 November 2013, pre- and post-2011 pay scales were merged into a single consolidated scale applicable to each grade. Generally, the third point of the 1 November 2013 pay scale is equivalent to the first point of the pre-2011 scale.  Guidelines relating to the merging of the scales are available on my Department's website.

  Any further adjustment must also be considered under the framework of the Lansdowne Road agreement but must also be considered in the context of the total cost of the agreement, which is €844 million, and the total cost of the outstanding FEMPI restoration post-Lansdowne Road, which is €1.4 billion.

  Under this agreement, we have made progress in addressing particular issues, such as the restoration of supervision and substitution payments and new entrant payments in the education sector and the restoration of rent allowances to new entrant fire-fighters and members of An Garda Síochána.

  Additional information not given on the floor of the House

  The matters raised by the Deputy are appropriate for deliberation by the management and staff representatives in the context of public service pay talks which are currently under way. It would accordingly be inappropriate to comment further on these matters at this time.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett The protest the other day was organised by the rank and file. They are ordinary teachers, mostly young, who are in this lesser-paid category. The reduction in the level of inequality the Minister referred to in rather technical language still leaves a situation whereby under the Minister's proposals, teachers, ushers or other public sector workers who came in after 2011 will over the course of their lifetime earn €100,000 less compared to those who happened to come in before 2011 and were on the old scale. That is totally unacceptable for people doing the same job. In fact, they will be working harder with all the productivity proposals such as Croke Park hours but they are on this lesser scale and will earn that much less over their lifetimes. Just as we are now discovering with nurses, who are leaving the country and will not work in our public health service when we desperately need them, there is now a substitution crisis in education for the same reason. The teachers are starting to walk because they are not accepting this pay apartheid. Will the Minister commit to getting rid of it?

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Let us talk about some figures amidst the Deputy's comments. From 1 January 2017, under the measures I agreed alongside the Minister for Education and Skills for INTO and TUI members, a new entrant will be paid a salary of €35,837. By 1 January 2018, when the second half of new entrant restoration has occurred, it will be considerably ahead of that. Amidst all the claims the Deputy is making regarding pay, and I see it every morning when I go into classrooms, let us bear in mind two things. The amount of funding I have to use to address the claims those teachers are making is the same pot of funding we have to use to pay for service improvements and investment in our schools and hospitals. Let us also acknowledge that with the plan we have in place, we are looking at a starting salary when all the different allowances and payments to teachers are included of €35,837, which I would contend is a salary that reflects the great value we as a country place on those who teach in our classrooms.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett We hear all the usual chestnuts but the Minister does not answer the question, which is whether we are going to have equality. Are we going to have equality for people with the same professional training who will work the same number of years? In fact, they will work more years because of other attacks. Are we going to have a single pay scale for all of them or will we continue with the pay apartheid where over the course of somebody's lifetime, they earn €100,000 less? The Minister considers the starting pay good. He should try getting some accommodation on that starting pay and he will soon find out how good it is. We know there is a problem with nurses in terms of pay and conditions and now it is becoming evident in the teaching profession. Schools cannot get substitutes. Classes are going without teachers if somebody is ill because teachers do not want to work in this situation where they are treated as lesser paid - a sub-class of teacher - because of this pay apartheid and the Minister will not commit to the principle of equality no matter how many times he is asked.

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe It is because the principle of fairness I must respond to is different from the one the Deputy is concerned with. I must be able to make sure I am fair to people who need services and to people who need housing and make sure we have the money available to build housing. The Deputy comes in here and deals with each issue in isolation. I must be able to deal with each matter collectively because the resolution and progress of all these different issues comes out of the same amount of funding, which is the money the taxpayers contribute through their taxes and what we are able to borrow. I cannot commit to any further change in our pay policy because that is being negotiated at the moment between my Department and representatives of those who work in our public services in the Workplace Relations Commission. What we are engaged in there involves trying to find a way to see if we can, in an affordable way, unwind the FEMPI legislation - something the Deputy also called for. In fact, I am sure he would look for it to happen at a quicker pace than is possible at the moment. He would probably look for it to happen immediately, which goes back to the very point-----

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett I would.

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I am glad the Deputy acknowledged it there. If he can come up with a recipe for me as to how we can find €1.4 billion immediately while meeting all the other needs he raises with me on a regular basis, I look forward to hearing what that formula is. If he could also assure me it would not destroy the economy that produces all the tax to deliver the services we are talking about, I would be interested in that as well.

Capital Expenditure Programme

 14. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the extent to which he expects to be in a position to make adequate provision for vital infrastructural projects over the next four years with particular reference to housing, road and rail networks, communications, educational and health services and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [26239/17]

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan This is the reverse side of the argument. Could the Minister tell us the degree to which he hopes to be in a position to provide the necessary funding for vital infrastructural projects listed in the question.

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe There is a plan in place to respond to many of the different needs referred to by Deputy Durkan. As set out in the Estimates 2017, it is projected that capital expenditure will increase by almost 75% between 2016 and 2021 but as I have acknowledged in responses to earlier questions, we know there is a need to find new ways to invest in capital infrastructure in our schools, hospitals and roads. The Government is currently engaged in a number of different options to see how we could achieve that.

  Additional information not given on the floor of the House

  The six-year capital plan published in 2015 set out Exchequer capital spend of €27 billion and, including the wider semi-State sector and PPPs, total State-backed capital investment of €42 billion. It is estimated that the plan will support more than 45,000 construction-related jobs. As the Deputy may be aware, there are a number of major projects included in the plan, such as, for example, the Luas cross city project, metro north, the Dunkettle interchange, the new children's hospital and schools building. This Government is strongly committed to increasing public funding for capital investment in Ireland over the next four years and beyond in order to meet key infrastructural requirements to sustain economic growth and social progress.

  Alongside this increase in capital spending, it will also be important for the construction sector to build its capacity to undertake additional projects. For example, even at current levels of increased spending, the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland reports construction inflation of the order of 30% between 2011 and 2017.

  The programme for a partnership Government committed to additional capital investment over the period of the capital plan to 2021 to be allocated in such areas as housing, road and rail networks, communications, educational and health services on the basis of the outcome of the ongoing review of the capital plan. 

  In this context, in the summer economic statement 2016, the Government committed to an additional €5.14 billion Exchequer capital investment over the period from 2017 to 2021. Following the decision to commit €2.2 billion of this amount in support of the Government's action plan on housing and homelessness and other public capital commitments made in Estimates 2017, there is approximately €2.6 billion in uncommitted additional capital funding over the period 2018 to 2021 which will be allocated following the completion of the review of the capital plan.

  The analysis being carried out as part of the review include an infrastructure capacity and demand analysis which will help inform decisions by Government in due course on the required levels of investment for the provision of critical infrastructure across the different sectors of the economy. I expect that the approach I have set out to the review of the capital plan will help ensure that our national public infrastructure is maintained and enhanced over the remaining period of the capital plan to 2021 and beyond. 

  As set out in the Estimates 2017, it is projected that Exchequer capital expenditure will increase by almost 75% between 2016 and 2021.  The Government is, therefore, ensuring that our continued strong economic performance is reflected in increased capital expenditure over the coming period.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan What is the extent to which the Minister has been able to study the urgency of the requirements in some cases as opposed to others? For example, the housing situation is extremely urgent. In two or three years' time, it will not be as urgent because the market will have caught up and supply will have improved but the current situation is urgent. A similar situation pertains to road transport, hospitals and schools.


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