Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 5 Feb 1953

Vol. 136 No. 2

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Report of Civil Service Arbitration Board.

asked the Minister for Finance if he will state when it is proposed to publish the report of the Civil Service Arbitration Board on the recent application by Civil Service organisations for an increase in pay based on the substantial increase in the cost of living, and if he will indicate when any increases recommended in the report will be paid.

asked the Minister for Finance if he will state when he proposes to implement the recent arbitration award for civil servants.

asked the Minister for Finance if the Government has yet reached a decision on the award of the Civil Service Arbitration Tribunal; and, if so, the nature of such decision.

asked the Minister for Finance if he will state the terms of the recent Civil Service arbitration award and what decision concerning its implementation the Government may have taken.

With the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, I propose to answer Questions Nos. 17, 18, 19, and 20 together. The Government has at present before it the report of the Civil Service Arbitration Board. No decision has yet been taken in respect of the board's findings. As soon as a decision has been reached the Government will present the report to Dáil Éireann. Presentation will in any event be made within the three months' period prescribed in the agreement concluded between the Minister and the Civil Service staff organisations.

In view of the fact that the Minister has had this report for the past two and a half months and that the position of the lower-paid grades in the Civil Service is becomingacute because of the substantial rise in the cost of living, would the Minister not indicate now what the Government intend to do in respect of this proposal and particularly with regard to the payment of any increases recommended therein?

I should be very glad to meet the Deputy in that regard. The only thing that is worrying me is whether the Deputy's constituents will be able to afford the extra taxation which the implementation of this award will entail.

Crocodile tears.

In view of the fact that the Minister was freely a party to the setting up of the arbitration board, that the Tánaiste, during the last general election said that this Government accepted the principle of arbitration for the Civil Service, and that the Minister himself was represented on the recent arbitration board proceedings, is it possible that at this stage the Minister for Finance proposes to welsh on the arbitration award?

No. The Minister cannot speak for the Government, but the Government is entitled to have at least three months to consider the implications of this award in so far as they affect the ordinary taxpayer in this country. In addition to that, we must necessarily consider the position of other people as well as the public servants to whom this award applies.

In view of the fact that increases have been freely granted by private employers in recognition of the increase in the cost of living and of the fact that the Tánaiste said recently at the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis that the Government was prepared to face up to an adjustment of wage levels because of the slashing of subsidies, surely the Minister for Finance and the Government should not contemplate at this stage refusing similar increases to lowly-paid State employees?

Of course, the position in regard to private employers and to the Government as an employer is very different. In the case of privateemployers, if they increase wages and if that results in an increase in prices, the ordinary general public has always the option of refraining from purchasing, and, therefore, may not be mulcted to the extent represented by the increase in wages and the consequent increase in prices. In the case, however, of public employers like the Government or a local authority, if the Government decides, or the local authority decides, to increase the wages of its employees, it is ipso factocompelled to make the ordinary public pay that increase. The ordinary public has no option except to pay and, therefore, there is no analogy between the two cases.

The Minister was given the chance of putting that before the arbitration board.

The decision is still reserved. The Government carries final responsibility.