Monday, February 09, 2009

B of I pay cuts needed

Last week's big story was the government's imposition of a pension levy on public sector employees. Although I agree with the government's decision, I don't like all the flippant language about overpaid public sector employees, etc.

The government overspent and over-promised and public servants are going to pay a price for that. Sure too many were hired in recent years and sure it would have been better if they had never been granted all sorts of pay hikes, but neither of those is really the fault of the workers themselves. I don't blame them being angry. It's much harder to see your pay fall than to have never seen it rise in the first place.

I agree with the government's decision AND I have sympathy for the public sector employees. Tough choices, tough times.

Then on Saturday I saw this headline: Bank of Ireland staff get 3.5% pay rise. Well, now I'm annoyed, but I presume that the public sector workers are livid. They've been asked to take a pretty big cut in pay and yet here are those people who are for all intents and purposes becoming public sector employees - and workers in failed entities at that - and they're getting a pay hike. Why?

The Minister for Finance needs to step in right there and put the kibosh on that decision. If the Bank of Ireland and AIB are going to be splitting €7bn of taxpayers' money, at the very least their workers should be expected to experience the pay cut pain that the public sector workers are expected to endure.