Date Released: 25 April 2014
In a statement to address any misunderstandings which might arise from a front page article in today's Irish Independent SIPTU President Jack O'Connor rejected any attempt to pit private and public service workers against each other in the matter of pay increases.
Mr. O'Connor said, "I have no interest in facilitating a mischievous attempt to pit worker against worker and union against union. I have always fought for unity among workers irrespective as to the sector in which they might be employed or whether they are unemployed for that matter."
He went on to say "our union's position has always been clear. The key to a sustained recovery is growing domestic demand because it accounts for three quarters of the economy. This is where the real job creation potential lies. Two thirds of it is accounted for by consumption. This in turn is dependent upon how much money people have in their pockets and the degree to which they have the confidence to spend rather than save it. Therefore, increasing pay is now one of the steps which is absolutely key to the momentum of growth. It is also the route to generating the resources to rebuild public services and restore the pay which public service workers have lost. That is why we have been pursuing a vigorous pay campaign across the private sector which has resulted in almost 250 agreements at this stage. It is also why I am already on the public record several weeks ago calling for the negotiation of a new agreement to increase pay in the public service from a date earlier than the expiry of the current Haddington Road Agreement which is scheduled to extend to the middle of 2016.
"Tax cuts could also play a role but only if they are applied fairly by, for example, increasing the bands applying to the universal social charge which would benefit all workers instead of simply concentrating relief on the better off as is being suggested by some politicians. However, such tax cuts do nothing to grow aggregate demand if they are funded by public spending cuts because this is simply shifting money that is already at play in one sector of the economy to another. Any tax reductions must be funded by a combination of economic growth and increasing the tax take from the wealthy and those on top incomes," he said.