Dáil debates

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Topical Issue Debate

Croke Park Agreement Review

3:50 pm

Photo of Seán FlemingSeán Fleming (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

It is precisely because of the information that the Minister just gave me that I submitted this matter for debate. As Opposition spokesperson, I wrote directly to the chairman a week or two ago to ascertain the status of the report. He said it would be prepared for the Minister over the coming weeks and that it would be sent to him and published by the Government in due course.

The Minister’s statement does not address the fact that the report was out months earlier last year. We are now two months behind last year's schedule. This does not represent public sector reform. The report should be produced more promptly. I acknowledge that the Minister said that it is a small secretariat in his Department that is working on putting together last year's report, and that similar staff are probably working on the Croke Park agreement, but it would have been more helpful if everybody had known last year's position when starting the talks considering that they are working on figures from 2011.

What the Minister read represents outstanding progress and success under the Croke Park 1 agreement. He was not a fan of the agreement, became a fan of it and is now saying he cannot achieve it. However, it achieved a saving of €1.5 billion before last year's savings came into account, which I am sure may amount to at least another €1 billion. Croke Park 1 did achieve success. Therefore, why has the Minister put us in a position in which we almost have no agreement at present? Can anything be done? It is no good producing last year's figures after some new agreement is in place. People are entitled to know where they stood last year before making an arrangement for this year.

I have advice for the Minister in his discussion with the Labour Relations Commission. A stumbling block the Minister faced in getting Croke Park 2 over the line was that, in some cases, cuts were based on the make-up of pay and not people's actual pay. He said core pay was not being cut, yet people earning under €65,000 were subject to pay cuts. It may not have been in respect of core pay, but pay is pay and money in one’s bank account at the end of the month. Trying to tell the public that there are no core pay cuts for anybody earning under €65,000 when they were actually receiving pay cuts was a major bone of contention. The Minister may call the cuts whatever he likes and refer to premium allowances but the cuts were, in effect, pay cuts and this led to considerable difficulty during the last round of discussions. I hope this will be taken into account in the coming days.


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