Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar has tweeted a very timely and apt question in light of the ministerial pensions controversy of the past week – ‘is it time the beards got a haircut’?
The ‘beards’ in question are, or course, the trade union leaders – some of whom have been very vocal in their condemnation of the huge ministerial pensions that some sitting TDs have been in receipt of.
One such person was SIPTU’s Jack O’Connor who last week called on any public representative in the Oireachtas or in EU institutions in receipt of State pensions to voluntarily forgo them while earning public salaries.
While we can hardly disagree with Jack O’Connor’s sentiment, it is kind of rich coming from a guy who earns a very good living representing some of the lowest paid in the country.
A bit rich in that while he is fighting for better pay and conditions for his members, he is drawing a handsome salary of €125,000 a year for his troubles – more than €25,000 more than what a TD gets paid.
And what about the other ‘beards’ as Varadkar and many others have christened our union brethren.
Peter McLoone from IMPACT is another who is representing low paid workers struggling to survive in today’s harsh economic climate.
For his trouble, he is getting paid in the region of €155,000 a year.
ICTU boss David Begg is hardly on the breadline either – he is drawing in an estimated €137,000 a year.
And Blair Horan, from the Civil and Public Service Union, is also a high-roller pocketing in the region of €120,000 a year for his troubles.
While many people, including union bosses, have taken pay cuts in the past year, it is hard to stomach that this group of people – whose job it is to represent the low paid and vulnerable workers – are still earning more than three times the average industrial wage.
And so we come back to Leo Varadkar’s tweet: ‘is it time the beards got a haircut?”