No to Croke Park cuts

Laois’ nurses, paramedics, firecrews and Gardaí are saying no to further wage cuts, and have gained the support of local politicians.

Laois’ nurses, paramedics, firecrews and Gardaí are saying no to further wage cuts, and have gained the support of local politicians.

Yesterday delegates from Laois 24/7 Frontline Alliance, who represent Gardaí, nurses and midwives, paramedics, the fire service and other public workers, met privately with Laois County Councillors and TDs to seek their support in rejecting the proposed extension to the Croke Park Agreement.

The changes would dramatically reduce pay, in the case of nurses by over 11 per cent. The unions say the proposals would deteriorate their terms of employment, and feel they are being unfairly targeted.

One local ambulance paramedic says he is facing a wage cut of €3,500 to his €36,000 annual salary.

“I am 21 years in the ambulance service, working 24/7, I was at home with my kids for Christmas day maybe for six years out of that. We face death and suffering as part of our job, and we are one of the lowest paid public servants in the country. I would like to think the public will back us. We are all doing jobs we love, but to single out the health service for these cuts is unacceptable,” he said.

He says some workers who live far away from their jobs are sleeping overnight in their car when they have two shifts close together, because they can’t afford the petrol to drive home.

“These are people who already can’t pay their mortgages, but are getting up and going to work. We are looking after the public, keeping them safe” he said.

With many workers already not using their own mobiles or laptops, he says action could be stepped up.

The representatives put their concerns to councillors as well as Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan, Fianna Fail’s Sean Fleming and Sinn Féin’s Brian Stanley, and were satisfied that support will be given unanimously.

“The public representatives present, of councillors and TD’s, across all parties, listened attentively to the Alliance concerns and unanimously agreed that the pay proposal in its current form is both unfair and disproportionate to 24/7 frontline workers,” the group stated afterwards.

They say local politicans will approach government on their behalf, to push their campaign.

The local paramedic says Portlaoise would be one of the hardest hit towns in Ireland if the proposed cuts go through.

“This is a public service town, between the two prisons, two hospitals, Garda Station, Department of Agriculture. If we are cut, that’s money we can’t spend in local shops,” he said.

An information meeting for public service workers from Offaly Carlow, Kilkenny and Laois is taking place this evening (Tuesday, March 26) in the Heritage Hotel at 7pm, presented by national representatives of the 24/7 Frontline Alliance.

Public service workers across all unions and sectors are welcome.