Public Service Pay and Pensions Bill 2017: Committee Stage

Sections 1 to 3, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 4

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 8, between lines 14 and 15, to insert the following:

“(3) Subsection (2) of section 12 of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2013 is repealed.”.

There is significant opposition among trade unionists and trade unions to this anti-trade union legislation. The punitive and draconian consequences mapped out in the Bill are disproportionate and unprecedented. The measures include, for instance, a freeze on increments for three years, a nine-month delay of pay restoration measures and the iniquitous two-tier system of pay which discriminates against workers who commenced employment on or after 1 January 2011. The opposition and unrest are patently obvious outside the gates of Leinster House this evening where members of the Teachers Union of Ireland, TUI, including all of its national officers and the national executive, as well as members of the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland, ASTI, including its general secretary and president, are protesting. There is significant opposition to this legislation.

Amendment No. 1 seeks to repeal section 12(2) of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2013 because clearly there is no longer any emergency. The section requires the Government to bring forward, by the end of June every year, a declaration of a financial emergency, but clearly there is no such emergency and that is not just Deputy Seamus Healy speaking. A series of Ministers have said it, including the former Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan. At a meeting of the Committee on Budgetary Oversight on 21 September 2016 he said the opinions of the political parties during the general election were to the effect that the rates of USC needed to be reduced, that it was an emergency tax that had been introduced at a particular time and that "now that the emergency was over," work should continue to phase it out. On 13 October 2015 when introducing the annual budget he said:

The forecast deficit for 2015 of 2.1% is well ahead of our original target of 2.7 % and our excessive deficit requirement of less than 3% of GDP. Consequently, we will exit the corrective arm of the Stability and Growth Pact and move into the preventive arm of the pact.

The then Tánaiste, Deputy Joan Burton, said in an opinion piece in The Irish Times that "while the emergency is over, the need for reform is not." On three occasions Ministers indicated that the emergency was over. Also notable is the fact that in the last two budgets significant reductions in income tax and USC were granted to the top earning 5% of citizens whose incomes exceeded €180,000 per annum. If one looks at the situation nationally in terms of how very wealthy people are faring, we find that in terms of GDP per head Ireland is wealthier than Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, France and Italy. In fact, Ireland is ranked eighth in the world by this measure. The richest 12 individuals in the country have €50 billion in total assets, of which they have gained €6 billion in the last year. The top 300 richest individuals have €100 billion in total assets, of which they have gained €12 billion in the last year. The financial assets of the top 10% are now €37 billion above the peak boom levels of 2006. The top 10,000 personal income recipients have incomes totalling €6 billion per year or an average income of €600,000. There are significant gains being made in this country which is ranked as the eighth wealthiest in the world. In its pre-budget submission the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul told us that the income share of the top 1% had increased by 20% between 2014 and 2015. Ireland also has the luxury of not needing to collect €13 billion due to it from Apple. Today the Minister of State at the Department of Defence, Deputy Paul Kehoe, told the House that the Government wanted the country to join the PESCO arrangement. That will commit us to spending an additional 2% of budget or €1.5 billion extra per year in the next few years. It is quite clear that there is significant wealth in the country and various Ministers have confirmed that the emergency is over.

It is my belief the provision in the legislation regarding the declaration of a financial emergency is unconstitutional. It is being used to reduce pensions, increase pension contributions and control pay and conditions of employment. I questioned the former Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Brendan Howlin, about this at an Oireachtas committee. It is important to read his response. He said:

The bottom line is I agree with the thrust of what Deputy Healy said about pensions being a preserved property right. That has been determined by the courts. That is why we have taken very careful advices from the Attorney General, of which some have already been tested in the courts. The criteria required, as I have put on the record before, are that to sustain pension contributions, there needs to be an emergency which needs to be certified.

He went on to say the contribution had to be one towards addressing the emergency, that it needed to be proportionate in terms of a person’s income and that it needed to be non-discriminatory. In other words, one cannot say one category of people should be deprived of a pension and that another category should not. Clearly, reductions in pensions and increases in pension contributions are subject to there being a financial emergency and it being certified every year. However, it is quite clear from ministerial statements, data for the incomes and assets of the very wealthy in this country and the fact that the country is now the eighth wealthiest in the world, that there is no such emergency. The declaration of an emergency is simply being used to deprive people of their pension rights, increase their pension contributions and reduce and control pay and conditions of employment. I commend the amendment to the House.

I support Deputy Seamus Healy's amendment, the effect of which would be the complete repeal of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2013. It is hard to believe the legislation underpinning the declaration of a financial emergency is still in place in 2017. In less than a month we will be in 2018, but the first reports that the recession was bottoming out and that a recovery was under way in the economy were in 2014.

Members can go back and look at the newspaper reports. We have had 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 and we will soon be in 2018, yet the Government still insists on keeping this emergency legislation in place. These are emergency measures to hold down the pay, pensions and rights of public servants at time when the landlords are creaming it and the multinational corporations and business generally are raking in record profits. To have emergency measures for public servants shows where the priority of this Government lies.

This legislation is being used as a big stick to beat young public servants and to enforce a denial of equal pay for equal work. We have had cuts to the starting salaries of those employed in the public sector since 2011 and the new pay agreement, the public services stability agreement, or PSSA, which the Minister hails as being a step towards ending two-tier pay, in reality copper-fastens it. Under this agreement, no change can occur in the essential character of the two-tier system during the duration of the agreement up to 2021 because the pay rates cannot be equalised within that period. This is outrageous. The idea that we would pay people less on the basis of the colour of skin, gender or sexual orientation would be outrageous yet how is it fundamentally different to discriminate against people on the basis of their age? While the Government will say it is not related to age but to new entrants, the overwhelming majority of those new entrants are young people. It is right and proper that the three teacher unions are opposed and I support them entirely in opposing that measure.

Is it not a scandal that those young workers continue to be discriminated against and continue to be paid lower pay for work of equal value, while this agreement will allow people who drove this country over the cliff in the interests of the builders, the developers and the bankers - people like Brian Cowen and Bertie Ahern - to have their pensions fully restored? It is one law for the likes of Brian Cowen and Bertie Ahern and something different entirely for young teachers and other young workers in the public sector. If those young workers, along with their fellow trade unionists, vote democratically to refuse to sign up to the new agreement, FEMPI kicks in and backs up the Government in saying that rather than recognising the right to free collective bargaining, it will enforce extra penalties on their head, increments will be frozen until 2021 and they will have an effective two years-plus continuation of the pension levy. This is anti-union and anti-worker legislation. It should not be tweaked or tampered with; it should be thrown out entirely. I completely support Deputy Healy's amendment.

I also wish to support Deputy Healy's amendment. The FEMPI legislation should be completely repealed. It has no justification whatsoever and it never did, by the way. It was based, in the first instance, on an enormous lie that was used to justify the austerity assault on working people after the collapse in 2008. The lie was that the reason we had a crash was that we had excessive public spending and that our public servants were paid too much. That was a total lie and utter nonsense. We had an economic collapse because of the reckless gambling by bankers and property developers, and the financial and governmental authorities which actively facilitated that with so-called light-touch regulation. This applies right from the European Cental Bank to our own Central Bank, the financial regulators and the two main political parties in this country, and all of their cronies in the banking sector and the building sector - all of the people who now are enjoying an absolute bonanza. That is the irony. They never got punished for their criminal actions in stoking up the property bubble and the crash that followed and they are now the major beneficiaries of the recovery, creaming in astronomical profits from the property sector on the back of a massive homelessness crisis. Who paid the bill, however? It was the poor public servants who bore no responsibility, except maybe a few at the very top who were part of the permanent Government. It was ordinary public and civil servants who had no responsibility for that crisis who were made to pay, and pay savagely, with this FEMPI legislation, which was the main instrument through which to impose really vicious austerity.

Before getting on to the specifics of what this Bill perpetuates in that great injustice and unfairness that was inflicted on public sector workers, it is very important to set it in a wider context. The big hidden story of what is happening in this country, and has been happening for approximately the last 30 years, is a massive redistribution of wealth from working people to capital. That is not something that is only said by the left and left-wing think tanks, although they have produced multiple papers on it, including those by Paul Sweeney, TASC and so on, which have shown there has been a consistent fall in the share of national income going to labour for the last 30 years. Paul Sweeney's paper in 2013 showed how the proportion of national income that went to labour in the 1970s in this country was in excess of 60% whereas it is now approximately 40%, so there has been a massive transfer. This was confirmed earlier this year by none other than the IMF, hardly the friend of working people, but even it has been forced to admit that this transfer is taking place. In fact, some of its figures are even more shocking, suggesting that average distribution of national income between capital and labour has moved from labour in the 1970s getting 75% of national income in advanced economies and only 25% going to capital, to a dramatic reversal of that today and with labour's share falling consistently.

Where this links to FEMPI is as follows. When the crash that was caused by the gambling bankers and developers and the politicians who supported them happened, rather than recognise that this was as a result of capital gone out of control and capital having too much control of our economy, the atmosphere of crisis was used to intensify an already ongoing assault on the share of national income going to working people. That is what has been done. Never waste a good crisis. Down to the letter, it was the shock doctrine that Naomi Klein had written about. My God, did Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael embrace the shock doctrine and target it at public sector workers with gusto, inflicting cuts on public sector workers they could not even have dreamt of before the crash in 2008?

When we think about what they have done, even with this so-called partial restoration of public sector pay the Government is trying to trumpet, after the savage assault that has been inflicted on public sector workers over the past ten years, at the end of 2021, under this legislation, public sector workers will still be earning less than they were earning when the austerity cuts were imposed. Therefore, in 2021, that is 13 years later, public sector workers will still be earning less than they were in 2008. My God. The most savage capitalist could not have dreamt of that before 2008 but the Government has managed to get away with it and is still trying to justify it as being reasonable under the guise of an emergency that the Government declared a few years ago to be over but which apparently still applies to public sector workers.

I am particularly infuriated by how, when we discuss the situation in the health services or housing, the Government mentions, to use the Taoiseach's term from today, "capacity restraints". We cannot solve the housing crisis because of "capacity constraints". The Government wants to restore the health service, but it is having difficulty recruiting nurses and so on. Why? It is because of this FEMPI stuff and because the Government turned the so-called pension levy into a permanent feature and wants to make pay apartheid permanent in terms of people who entered into the public service after 2011 or 2012 such that, even with this so-called restoration, new entrant teachers, nurses and others will, over the course of their lifetimes, earn approximately €200,000 less. It is worth considering what that means. If someone earns €200,000 less than somebody else who is doing the same job but just happened to be recruited into the public service before 2011, that is his or her ability to buy a house gone. With average house prices, a mortgage is actually in excess of that. If a worker loses €200,000, his or her capacity to purchase a home is wiped out by the pay apartheid that is imposed on post-2011 or post-2012 teachers, nurses and other public servants. How can the Government justify it? Spurious and dishonest justifications were given a few years ago, but the Government is still claiming it to be justified now when that factor, among other matters, is contributing significantly to the housing and homelessness crisis facing us to the extent that tenured lecturers who are homeless are attending my clinic. That is how bad it is because of what the Government has done to pay.

Then the Government wonders why we cannot get people to return to the country and why we have a shortage of nurses, teachers and skilled workers in other areas of the economy. Unless it restores pay, we will not be able to get people to return and there will continue to be a brain drain out of the country of teachers, nurses and other educated professionals. It is shocking.

Even worse, this legislation continues the punishment of those who simply voted against it. It is the sort of action expected of tyrannical governments. We will have on our books emergency legislation that punishes people who put something in their union ballot boxes to say that they would not accept this legislation or the justification for it. The Government wants to punish them by denying them their increments up to 2021. It is disgusting. There is no other word for it. That word was misapplied to Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe once upon a time in the Houses, but FEMPI is disgusting. For the Government to perpetuate this and punish people who stand up against it is unjustified.

I commend the bravery of the ASTI, the TUI, the INTO, the nurses' unions and so on who have spoken out against this. I hope that the revolt against this pay apartheid and emergency legislation will escalate until we begin to reverse the injustice that has been imposed on public sector workers and, as a critical part of that, reverse the transfer of wealth from working people to the rich and capital that has been ongoing for the past 25 or 30 years and is causing significant social tension and polarisation. Albeit slightly weakly, the IMF commented on that last point when it had to admit that income inequality and the unjust distribution of income in the world was significantly contributing to social tension. That was putting it mildly. People are fed up with it and will not take it for much longer.

I support Deputy Healy's amendment. I remind the Minister of State and the Government of the slogan that I am sure they now want to forget, namely, "Keep the Recovery Going". How can they justify having gone to the people almost two years ago with that slogan while continuing with measures that were implemented under the guise of a supposed financial emergency? How can they square the two at once? I am intrigued to know how the Minister of State can stand over it.

The so-called financial emergency was a crisis of the capitalist system, bankers and bondholders, who were bailed out by ordinary workers, with public sector workers in particular being blamed and facing the price of that. As Deputy Boyd Barrett stated, that emergency was used as a shock doctrine. Around the world, people saw the opportunity presented by the crisis to shift wealth from labour to capital, to shift the terms of the relative power between working class people and the capitalist class and, on those bases, to restore profitability from the point of view of the 1%.

The legislation before us takes some of those attacks, which were supposedly temporary, and enshrines them in an obvious way. The Bill makes no mention whatsoever of No. 1 among those attacks, namely, the pay apartheid between long-standing members of the public service and new entrants. "New entrants" is now a broad term encompassing a large number of workers. Not only was that about the savings generated by penny-pinching and not paying young workers the appropriate rates for their jobs, but it was also about undermining solidarity between workers, thereby creating an intergenerational divide between younger workers and older workers in the trade union that could be exploited in future in order to undermine workers and their ability to fight back. The Bill enshrines that pay inequality and continues that pay apartheid.

Similarly, it continues the pension levy, which is being slightly amended but made permanent. It is a pay cut, and always has been. It was a pay cut dressed up in the language of "What good pensions public sector workers have." They paid for those pensions. That pay cut is now being made permanent, which illustrates that the levy was always a pay cut for public sector workers.

The most substantial issue is the draconian and undemocratic nature of refusing the right of workers to reject deals that are put to them. It is an attempt to undermine the basis of free collective bargaining, under which workers have the right to negotiate collectively with their employers - in this instance, the State - and to reject a deal that is put before them. Instead, a gun is put to their heads and they are told that they can accept the deal or reject it, in which case it will be imposed on them in any event and the State will punish them even further. That is incredibly draconian, repressive and undemocratic, and it is one of the victories for the 1% stemming from the crisis period.

Unfortunately, it has been acquiesced to by a significant section of the trade union leadership. Being able to point to how other unions that refuse to take bad deals are being treated assists that section of the leadership with keeping its own members quiescent when it tries to sell them bad deals. It is scandalous behaviour.

Think back to the language used about public sector workers at the time and how attention was turned away from the bankers, bondholders and developers who were responsible for the crisis for which all workers were paying. Think about the demonisation of public sector workers that the Government of the time engaged in and the attacks in which Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Labour Party participated. It reminds one of the quote from Malcolm X: "If you aren't careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing."

The FEMPI legislation, the attack on public sector workers and dressing up pay cuts as pension levies were all part of an attempt to divide and rule working class people between private and public sector workers in order to undermine the collective position and power of workers as a whole for the benefit of the rich in our society.

Low paid workers who are seeking a decent standard of accommodation face a financial emergency. Low paid public or private sector workers who are trying to pay for crèche fees face a financial emergency. There are real financial emergencies from the point of view of ordinary people, but that is not the case in the economy as a whole.

Household net wealth has risen by 45% since mid-2012. Household net wealth totals over €650 billion, but the problem is it is not going to ordinary public or private sector workers. Rather, it is going to the top 5% and 1% in our society. Let us think about the fact that the richest 300 people have doubled their wealth over the course of the crisis. Their wealth increased from €50 billion in 2010 to over €100 billion in personal wealth right now. The same applies to profits, which doubled over the same period of time from €75 billion to €150 billion. Companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook and others can make massive profits and avoid paying any tax, facilitated by the Government.

It is not credible for the Government to reject the amendment and suggest that in some way a financial emergency is continuing. Of course, it exposes the reality of what happened. This Government and previous Governments saw an opportunity to attack the interests of all workers and took it. The only way to defeat that is for the union movement as a whole to take a stand against this, and to say it rejects all such Draconian legislation, apartheid pay inequality, which is a significant blow against the solidarity that is necessary to defeat employers and the State, and the ongoing pay cuts to public sector workers which the so-called pension levy represents.

I understand pensions are being paid to people who live abroad. That is fine, because people worked in this country and made the payments which entitled them to receive pensions. Is that retrospective? If people from Ireland worked abroad are they paid pensions when they return home? Fair is fair. If we are paying people in other countries we need to be sure that other countries are paying pensions to people who return to Ireland. I need to know the answer to that.

We have all discussed women who have lost out because of the averaging of their social welfare contributions for pension purposes. Women who left work for a number of months or years to rear families have lost out. The Government has not rectified that situation. Are those who worked in other countries and then returned to Ireland being paid pensions by those other countries, in the same way as Ireland pays pensions to those who worked here and then returned to their home countries?

I thank Deputy Healy for putting forward the amendment. It would effectively reduce the Minister's current obligations to the Oireachtas. Section 12(2) of the FEMPI Act 2013 which, in turn, replaced subsection 13 of the FEMPI Act 2009, obliges the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to carry out an annual review of the operation, effectiveness and impact of the FEMPI Acts.

In light of this, the Minister must decide whether the Acts are still required and make any recommendations which might be appropriate. This review must be made before the Houses of the Oireachtas before 30 June each year. When dealing with such strong emergency legislation, it is entirely appropriate that it is subjected to a regular annual review. This was never intended to be normal legislation. While it exists, it should be subjected to extraordinary annual review. I also believe that in the interest of the checks and balances required in a parliamentary democracy, the report should be submitted to the Oireachtas for Deputies to scrutinise. In this regard, we have serious engagement with Deputies on the issues in debates occasioned by the annual review.

The process of the annual review and, in particular, the detailed examination of the continued necessity of FEMPI legislation by civil servants and my Oireachtas colleague has informed my thinking on the complete dismantling of the FEMPI legislative architecture which the Bill aims to achieve. On that basis, I cannot accept the amendment.

How stands the amendment?

The response from the Minister of State is incredible. He dealt with none of the issues raised by any speakers nor any of the queries about Ministers who, in recent years, declared the emergency over. He did not address wealth in this country, the reduction in pensions, the increase in pension contributions, which is in effect a cut in pay, or the pay apartheid introduced by the Government.

The facts are very simple. Any individual with common sense would know that those who are already wealthy made a killing during the crisis in Ireland and afterwards. They have made huge gains in terms of personal income and assets. As a result, Ireland is the eighth wealthiest country in the world.

Teachers, nurses, doctors and gardaí are all affected by the pay apartheid in the Bill, which the FEMPI legislation introduced. The Minister has not referred to any of those issues. He simply read out a very short script given to him by officials. He made no attempt to explain why emergency legislation must be kept in place when his Government and party went to the people in February 2016 and declared that we must keep the recovery going.

I again thank Deputy Healy. The response I gave to the House was a response to the amendment as tabled. A number of amendments on Committee Stage cover many of the issues raised. I want to show respect to the House and the Deputies who have raised those issues, and deal with them in the order in which the amendments will be discussed which is what the Ceann Comhairle has asked us to do.

On what is and what is not an emergency, it is worth pointing out that the full-year cost of repealing the FEMPI provisions pertaining to public service employees as they currently stand would be in the order of €1.4 billion.

That is because the Government wants to pay for PESCO.

We want to see an orderly unwinding of the emergency position in which the country found itself and to which many Deputies have referred. We want to do this as much as everybody else and nobody has a monopoly of those concerns. We want to do it in an orderly fashion that is affordable and manageable. We want to do it in discussion and dialogue with the representatives of the public servants at the heart of this process. That is from where the public service pay agreement came, as well as the consequent legislation. That is the basis on which we are proceeding.

Amendment put:
The Committee divided: Tá, 16; Níl, 40; Staon, 49.

  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Zappone, Katherine.

Staon

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Curran, John.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Lahart, John.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Keeffe, Kevin.
  • O'Loughlin, Fiona.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Troy, Robert.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Seamus Healy and Paul Murphy; Níl, Deputies Joe McHugh and Tony McLoughlin.
Amendment declared lost.
Section 4 agreed to.
Section 5 agreed to.
SECTION 6

Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 have been ruled out of order.

Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 not moved.
Question proposed: "That section 6 stand part of the Bill."

A series of important amendments have been ruled out of order, which makes a complete nonsense of the Oireachtas. The rule which states Members may not submit amendments which might effect an increase, or even a decrease, in the financial charge on the Exchequer is extraordinary and should be reviewed. In fact, it should be taken out altogether because it inhibits reasonable, proper and open debate on Bills brought before the House.

To clarify, the ruling out of order of the amendments is related to the constitutional provision which states a charge on the people may only be imposed by the Government. The Standing Orders reflect the constitutional position.

As we proposed in the amendments ruled out of order, this section should include a provision to end the pay inequality imposed on new entrants to the Civil Service after 2011 or 2012. We will move on presently to a more detailed discussion of the pension levy and the punishment provisions of the financial emergency measures in the public interest, FEMPI, legislation. However, the pay apartheid that disadvantages new entrants, including teachers, nurses and other public servants, is one of the key concerns of the Irish National Teachers Organisation, the Teachers Union of Ireland and the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland. It is a concern that will continue to grow and give rise to increased anger. Teachers have been one of the most vocal groups in opposing this ongoing pay inequality.

The moratorium on public sector recruitment was never completely imposed on education, and teachers recruited during that period are in the vanguard of those affected by this injustice, this pay inequality, to the point that those recruited between 2011 or 2012 have lost to date between €26,000 and €28,000. If they started in 2013, they have lost €25,000; in 2014, €20,000; in 2015, €13,000; and in 2016, €6,000. Those losses in earnings and income for new entrant teachers will continue and increase as the years go on as long as this pay apartheid structure, two different pay scales, persists.

When the issue of pay apartheid is put to the Government and it is pointed out how wrong it is that one teacher will be working beside another teacher doing exactly the same job but on a different pay level simply because of the year he or she entered the profession, it dishonestly implies that is all to do with increments and says all teachers who enter the profession are paid differently according to the year. Yes, they are, but the issue is the pay scale. They are on different pay scales when they come in.

By the way, this affects the people who work in here. The ushers and service officers who come in after 2011 or 2012 will be on a lower pay scale than people who were recruited before that, doing the same job. Is that fair? It is completely unfair. It means that over their lifetime of employment they will earn considerably less than people who happened to be recruited earlier than them. For many of them, given the amount that will accrue to them over their working lives, that makes the difference between being able to buy a house and not being able to buy one. It is absolutely wrong.

The Government has never even acknowledged the injustice of it. It has never stated this is unfortunate but that at some point it will get rid of this, that there will be one pay scale. I would not accept it all, but many of those who have been campaigning against it have said if they at least had a cast iron commitment that there would be a return to a single pay scale, there would be light at the end of the tunnel. There is no commitment and that leads me and, I suspect, many new entrant teachers and public servants to believe there was never any intention to restore a single pay scale for public servants. It was a question of creating a new lower pay scale for public servants to generally reduce the levels of pay for public servants. That is absolutely wrong and the Government does not even have the honesty and bravery to admit that is what it is doing to workers. Instead, it dissembles and misleads as to the real impact and intent of this pay apartheid.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.