€1.4bn increments for public sector workers defended

The payment of €1.4 bn of increments to public sector workers over the past six years is being defended.

Figures released by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, contained in the Sunday Independent, show that over 11,000 civil servants will receive increases under the increments scheme this year at a cost of €16.5m.

Former General Secretary of the Civil Public and Services Union, Blair Horan, said an increment freeze would only be a temporary solution, and would hit lower-paid public servants hardest.

"A freeze on increments was one of the options… under the first Croke Park agreement. But it was ruled out," he said.

"On the union side, we pointed out that it would adversely affect the lower-paid, because in general lower-paid grades like clerical officers have [more] points on the scale."

Political Correspondent with the Sunday Independent, Daniel McConnell, said that justification was simply Government and trade union spin, and the figures don't back it up.

"Of the 11,280 people who are going to get increments this year, less than half of them are in the lowest income bracket," he said.

"Therefore, middle- and higher-income earners in the public service make up a majority of those who are going to get increments this year."

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