Friday, October 9, 2009

Divide and conquer tactics must not pay off

It is now official. After months of kite flying the Minister for Finance confirmed today that the public sector will be hit and hit hard in December’s budget. Expect to hear a lot about waste in the public sector, inflated salaries, Rolls Royce pensions and anything and everything designed to paint a picture of a bloated and inefficient public service. A clear attempt is being made to divide and conquer and to pit public and private sector workers against each other. This is dangerous as well as divisive and must not be allowed to happen.

I need to make it clear that I am all for cutting public spending where necessary. Indeed my party has put forward reasonable and practical proposals to government on how public spending can be curbed. However in doing so we must protect front line services and those on low and middle incomes. Contrary to the picture being painted most public sector employees are on modest incomes and many are on less then the average industrial wage. The Rolls Royce pensions we hear a lot about are reserved for a privileged few at the top.

Reform and cuts are necessary but they must start at the top. We also need to recognise that the public sector has already seen thousands of job losses as well as abolition of overtime and the introduction of pension and income levies. New and severe cuts as is anticipated will result in dire consequences. While it is the Government who are making the running on this issue they are being closely followed by those in Fine Gael. If these parties have their way expect to see savage cuts in public services and the loss of front line staff such as teachers, nurses and gaurds. Too borrow and twist a Fianna Fáil election slogan ‘a lot were done – we have more to do’. But only if we let them.

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