Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 5 February 2019
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach
As the Taoiseach said, at a certain point a way will be found to solve this issue. I have much experience of how these issues have developed in the past. I have always seen a way for them to be resolved. I expect the same will happen here.
I know this is not a concern for the Deputy because he wants to see all public servants have their wages increased; he and I have debated this previously. The challenge we will face is what the financial consequences of this will be and whether we will be able to have another collective wage agreement. The Deputy and others have championed the cause of wage restoration. Through this agreement, which I am trying to protect, anybody who is on a salary of up to €35,000 is now earning more than they were in 2008 and anybody on a salary of up to €50,000 will now have their wages fully restored by the end of 2019. That is the kind of change the Deputy and others have championed and sought, and that is what this wage agreement is delivering. Therefore, he can understand why I am so eager to protect it.
If there is a change now for nurses, every other group not getting the same change will then feel the need to take action against the Government to make that happen. When the public sector wage bill is between a quarter and a third of total expenditure and given the Department we are talking about, the consequences of that for how we look after our national finances are enormous.