IRELAND - The Irish government has announced plans to introduce a new contribution rate for civil servant pension schemes, which could save it €1.4bn (US$1.8bn) this year.
In official documents explaining the move, the government said: "A saving of €1.4bn is to be achieved in a full year, largely as a result of a new pension-related deduction which will apply to the total earnings of all public servants. On average, the deduction will be 7.5%."
The government said the deduction had been decided upon on the basis "public service pensions are acknowledged to be significantly more favourable than the generality of pensions in the private sector" and it was therefore fair and reasonable to expect public workers to foot a higher bill, when faced with budgetary pressures and the need to deliver savings.
However, trade union leaders have opposed the measures, with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) calling the proposal an unfair pay cut on 340,000 public workers.
The Impact union - which represents public and service sector workers - said the change would hit thousands of lower paid workers harder than their higher-earning colleagues, due to higher tax relief for higher earners.
Impact spokesperson Bernard Harbor said: "Even among public servants, the Government's measure will hit thousands of lower paid workers harder than their higher-paid colleagues."
The Public Service Executive Union (PSEU) said the moves were "unacceptable" and viewed the proposals with "considerable alarm".
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