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Minister Alex White Defends Howlin Bill and a Reply May 31, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.

Many thanks to No2CrokePark2 for forwarding this.

Dear Pat
Thank you for your mail and for outlining your views regarding ongoing issues on public sector pay and conditions.
Our approach was, and always is, to seek agreement. That is why we supported the LRC process and their proposals. I have no wish to have confrontation – especially not with public sector workers who have already suffered pay reductions and seen their living standards fall. However, the public service pay and pensions bill at 36% of spending must, in the Government’s view, make a proportionate contribution to the additional expenditure reduction identified as necessary over the three-year period.

As you may know, my own work in the Department of Health is deeply challenging and pay cost reductions of 150 million have already been included in this year’s health budget.

I recognise that all public servants have already made a significant contribution to our economic recovery. However, measures in this Bill will be necessary to achieve sustainable public payroll costs that enable us to meet our fiscal responsibilities. The approach of our Government today to secure further savings from the public service pay and pensions bill is markedly different from the approach employed by the previous Government in 2009.

While I appreciate your support, I want to assure of one thing, that I and my colleagues in the Parliamentary Labour Party are cognisant of the huge pressures being faced by so many people, including public sector workers. The challenge is to try to address and solve the problems we face.

Thank you for taking the time to write to me.

Kind regards

Alex White TD, Labour Party Dublin South.
Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Primary Care

REPLY By Pat Donnelly, Lecturer of Business, IT-Tallaght and Member NO2CrokePark2

Dear Alex,

I appreciate that you have taken the time to reply but I must point out a number of issues to you.

1. You are interfering with the democratic process within the Trade Union Movement by threatening workers with a worse situation if they don’t agree to your proposals as accepted by the Trade Union “leadership”. This interference is intimidation by a Government [how gross can you get] of its citizens and, clearly, it is anti-democratic. As a democrat, this is totally unacceptable to me as it should be for you.

2. In my opinion, Progressive Taxation is the fairest answer to the budgetary position. Using Fair Progressive Taxation, you can get the required funds to run our public services effectively. This is not a selfish act on my part. In a Fair Progressive Tax System, I am not expecting to gain anything but I fail to understand why you think I am earning too much and need to contribute more to solving the country’s fiscal difficulties while someone in the private sector who earns more (sometimes much much more) doesn’t need to contribute any extra. You keep telling me this is FAIR – It must be my North of Ireland education that makes me not fully grasp the notion that it’s perfectly fair to pick out a minority of workers and treat them adversely differently to others (you were definitely planning to do that earlier to all public servants but now you are threatening to do it again to a minority of the minority – no half measures with this Government). I should understand that this is normal practice for Governments – I grew up with it in the North. Maybe 35 years living in Dublin has changed me.

3. It is clear that the people who are proposing and supporting this legislation have never suffered financial pain. They don’t understand the value of €20 to someone who can barely feed their children, in many cases because of loans that generated huge profits for certain untouchable individuals. Many of these loans are now unsustainable, not because of negative equity, but because of falling incomes and rising interest rates brought about by the last Government and continuing with yours. Remember we own the banks. Assert authority. Stop pretending you can do nothing about their wages and bonuses when you can rush through draconian legislation like this.

You now want to inflict more pain on the needy and more again if they dare to say no to your planned cuts because they can’t afford them.

Find a better way. That’s what you were elected to do. People didn’t vote for you or your partners in Government to give us more of the same and worse.

There simply has to be a better way. Find it. Find a way to catch the untouchables that got rich out of this debacle and leave ordinary citizens alone. That’s what you get paid to do. Don’t forget its tax payers’ money that keeps you in a job as well as me. I do mine to the best of my ability. Can you say the same or does some sort of party loyalty take precedence.

We’ve had enough of this warped ideology that says you can’t touch the wealth or profits of wealthy corporations and individuals. I’m prepared to pay more through a Fair Progressive Tax System. I am sure many individuals and corporations with more than me and earning more than me are equally willing to pay more. Why won’t you ask them?

Yours sincerely,

Pat Donnelly


1. Ciaran - June 1, 2013

Fair play, Pat.

It’s a real shame that Alex White seems to refuse to discuss the main complaints you and others have in the public sector, such as the better solution of progressive income tax, the imposition of legislation demanding that unions virtually swear a loyalty oath to the Government on pain of financial penalty, as well as the overarching fact that these kinds of cuts have only made things worse.


2. Paddy Healy - June 4, 2013

Extract from Letter from Jed Nash TD, Labour (Louth Meath) to TUI Member in his Constituency

Dear ——-,

I have been heavily involved with Minister Howlin and trade union colleagues in this process,———————–
I supported the legislation passed this week for a number of reasons. The trade unions were very clear on what this legislation contained when their negotiators left Haddington Road. By and large, they agreed that their members were entitled to know precisely what any legislation that would have to be promulgated in any event would contain. The Haddington Road proposals represent an opportunity to effectively opt-out from this legislation and many of its provisions.
I have worked for a long number of years in the area of industrial relations, and it is my view that the concerns some have expressed around a potential splintering of the trade union are very unlikely to materialise. The ICTU leadership is on record as supporting the bi-lateral approach in this instance and that view was reiterated to me directly by David Begg on Wednesday afternoon. There can still be a function for Congress in the final analysis.

Best wishes, and have a good weekend.


3. The Caretaker - June 4, 2013

Ged Nash should know, his constituency office in Drogheda is the local SIPTU office. Ironically it’s full title is Connolly Hall!


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