PUBLIC sector employees around the county were marching outside their places of work on Tuesday, with many of them angry about the cuts looming in the Budget on December 9.
Michelle O’Brien works with the Revenue Commissioners on the Gort Road and said that she felt the Government is putting too much of the burden onto the State’s employees.
“In fairness, I can only speak on my own behalf but to be honest I have bills to pay, I’ve a mortgage, I’ve a child in college. It’s the same as any other person and the Government is taking the easy option of hitting the public service. We’re the exact same as anyone else and why should our pay be hit?”
An ESRI study published in September pointed to a 25% pay gap between public and private sectors.
However, Ms O’Brien said that average pay levels can be deceptive and can damage the accuracy of such research. “The majority of public sector workers are on low pay. The averages are skewed. I’d love to be on €200,000 a year, or even €100,000 a year. I wouldn’t mind a 10% cut then.”
She said that herself and her colleagues aren’t heedless of the state of the public finances. “Everybody standing here doesn’t mind helping and taking some pain but we’re not going to take all the pain.”
Seán Downes of the Civil Public and Services Union was picketing the Courthouse in Ennis and said cuts need to be made at the top.
“It’s not fair that low-paid civil servants are being targeted in this way. We all are willing to take our share as long as it’s divided equally. If people at the top took their share first, people at the bottom would accept it then.”
He said he expects the next scheduled strike on December 3 to go ahead. “It’ll depend on how the talks go. They have to make progress this week and next week, it doesn’t look very good at the moment.”
Gerard Lyons is a member of Impact and also feels that cuts must be made at the top first. “What we would say is that the people who are being paid very well have to pay more, the fat cats have to pay more. We’ve taken a 7% cut already.”