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Senator Bacik speaking on "Stabilisation of the Public Finances"

05 February 2009


Senator Ivana Bacik: I thank Senator O'Toole for sharing time with me. I echo his words about the need for equity, about the problem with the burden of blame being heaped on the public sector and the unfair scapegoating of public service workers. In the public service, we all accept the need to pay our share. I support the principle of the pension levy, but I disagree with the inequitable way in which it is being imposed on the lowest paid. As the Government accepted with the 1% levy, there should be a level below which there is no pension levy. Those of us at the higher end should pay a higher percentage, but I do not think that people on €15,000 or €20,000 should be paying 3% or more as a pension levy. That is an unfair and inequitable way of targeting lower paid public service workers.

I express solidarity with those in the private sector who have borne the brunt of the recession, especially the Waterford Glass workers. As the granddaughter of the founder of Waterford Glass in the 1940s, Karel Bacik, I would like to say how deeply regretful I am to see what is happening at the company. I echo Senator O'Toole's words that we need to ensure at the very least the Waterford Glass pensioners are guaranteed their pensions. That is vital.

At a time when we are bailing out bankers with multiple billions of euro, it seems unfair that those in receipt of the largest sums of money - developers, bankers and people who are not earning incomes, but dividends on property - are not being asked to pay their share in the same way that we in the public service are asked to do so. I ask the Minister to look at the equity of the Government's scheme.