SIPTU proposes alternatives to Croke Park deal

SIPTU President Jack O’Connor has proposed that €1bn worth of savings could be achieved through the proceeds of the promissory note deal and increasing taxes on the wealthy, reports RTE News.

In an editorial in a SIPTU magazine, Mr O’Connor says that his formula could be the basis for negotiating an agreement on securing savings from the public sector pay bill in two phases.

His comments follow last week’s rejection by trade unions of the Croke Park II proposals.

Mr O’Connor notes that the promissory note deal would save €1bn in 2014 and just over €1bn in 2015.

The Deputy Chief Executive of Chambers Ireland Sean Murphy has said that SIPTU President Jack O’Connor is talking about spending money the country does not have.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Pat Kenny, Mr Murphy described the suggestion as “surreal” given Ireland still has one of the largest deficits in the EU.

He said: “We’re borrowing €1.25bn a month and the Troika is in town for the next two weeks kicking the tyres and discussing what are we doing.” Mr Murphy said: “The promissory note deal was about helping us as a State to meet our commitments and those commitments are social welfare, pensions, public service pay, front-line services, the health sector, the health budget.”

He said: “We’re borrowing too much and that is the fundamental issue and this discussion is in many ways about arguing about money we don’t have.”

Speaking on the same programme General Secretary of the Civil Public and Services Union, Eoin Ronayne described Mr O’Connor’s proposal as a “helpful interjection.”

Mr Ronayne said: “What Jack is saying, and what Congress has been saying for a long time, is its now time to refloat the economy by an investment stimulus package and cutting €300m this year out of public servants pay, at the lower end, those who spend money, is not likely to help stimulate any economy.”

He believes proper use of this funding, along with a “significant off balance sheet stimulus programme” and additional taxation of the wealthy could lessen the requirement for a cut in public service pay and pensions.

Mr O’Connor said that it could be used to fund job creation, alleviate hardship for working families and protect public services.

He says this coordinated approach could form the basis for negotiating a settlement on public service pay in two phases.

An interim term would apply until the end of 2013 to secure this year’s €300m saving.

The SIPTU president says this would avoid what he calls an “unnecessary and mutually destructive confrontation”. Source: RTE.