Thursday, 31 January 2019
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
I thank the Ceann Comhairle. One would think that the most dangerous thing to happen in Ireland was the public sector pay deal unravelling but there is massive wealth in society. ICTU tells us today that chief executive officer, CEO, pay is climbing by 6%. Three people in this economy own €29 billion in wealth. There is not just a little pie for the health service. There is a huge pie of untapped and untaxed resources in this society, as we know by the Apple tax alone.
How do we get out of this situation? First, I would not be playing tough man talking about penalties on nurses because that would stir up massive support from the public, but the Government is in a dilemma because that penalty and threat fails against workers if it is not applied to nurses. That is the reality. I call on the trade union leadership not to allow this strike to linger on but to harness the overwhelming support we saw yesterday between workers and launch a united trade union campaign to give nurses, midwives and psychiatric nurses a reason to stay or to return. Also, equal pay across the public sector should be restored. We cannot recruit teachers either. All workers, public and private, need a pay rise. What is the Tánaiste's alternative to paying the nurses? Do not just pat them on the back and tell them how great they are; they need pay.