Fine Gael offer no alternative


Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, Up pop Inda Kinny and Baldy Noonan with their version of how they intend to screw the workers (or their “budgetary proposals” as they put it).

Having accepted fully the same €15 billion cuts target as the current FF/Green coalition, the only issue at stake for Fine Gael is how they intend to implement their version of the ‘slash and burn’.

And it seems that they have decided that they want to prove to Mr. Chopra of the IMF that they can be relied on to chop just as hard and even harder than the two Brians.

If you think this lot are bad, look at what’s hoping to replace them

And they plan to do it by

  • Cutting the dole by €18 per week - €6 will be cut next year and further cuts up to €18 will be implemented by 2014.
  • Cutting jobs in the public sector – “take your 18,000,” says Noonan to Lenihan, “ and raise it to 30,000”.  That’s right – FG propose to throw 30,000 public servants onto the dole over the next 4 years – that’s teachers, nurses, social welfare office workers, civil servants. 
  • Cutting wages in the public sector – FG will seek ‘additional payroll savings of 1% PER YEAR in the public sector pay bill – that’s on top of the pension levy and the pay cuts already imposed ion public service workers.
  • Waging ‘all out war’ on social welfare recipients – they call it ‘all out war on social welfare fraud’.  What it will be will be a war on people claiming social welfare and attempts to force people into low-paid jobs – in the interests of ‘stimulus’ you understand!
  • Selling off state assets – they’re not specific but we can bet An Post, ESB, etc. are all being lined up for privatisation. i.e. for sale to their wealthy friends.  Privatisation will inevitably lead to job losses and ultimately increased charges for consumers.

But don’t worry FG are going to ensure that the wealthy share the pain!  There will be a ‘temporary cap’ of €200,000 on public sector salaries.  I can almost feel the pain of top civil servants and politicians – just as well they’ll have their massive expenses to rely on or they’d have to be applying to the Community Welfare Officer for assistance!

How come, one wonders, this ‘cap’ will be ‘temporary’ while all the other cuts proposed are intended to be permanent?

Of course FG are in the happy position of knowing that the first tranche of cuts will be done by the current government before they are forced to hold the election.  So while they can say now that they are opposed to any cut in the minimum wage, they can sit back happily in the knowledge that that dirty deed will be done by FF/Greens – there’s no pledge (not that I’d believe it even if there was!) that the cut will be reversed.

This election really is going to be a non-choice.

WORDS: Gregor Kerr