Sinn Féin Assembly member Cathal Ó hOisín has said that Sinn Féin supports the right of the public sector workers to take strike action in relation to the severe cuts being imposed by the Tory led British government.
Mr Ó hOisín said: “Sinn Féin have tabled proposals which would ensure that public sector workers earning up to £32,000 would not pay the increased pension contributions being implemented by the British government.
“Sinn Féin believes that this is the best way to protect both public services and public sector workers. We have asked that the Department of Education, the largest spending Department administered by Sinn Féin, to pilot a consultation process with the Unions and the public to measure support for our proposals. I welcome the acknowledgement from Bumper Graham that the Union dispute is with the Coalition government in London and not with the Executive. I hope that the Unions give serious consideration to our proposals.
“The SDLP have also indicated that they had ‘t abled’ alternative proposals to the Executive that would mitigate the effects of the British governments demand for increased public sector pension contributions. On checking with my party colleagues on the Executive they are unaware of any such proposals.
“I am calling on Alex Attwood and any other Minister who may have proposals to produce them for consideration so that we can find a way forward that will minimise the impact on low paid workers and protect public services. It is not sufficient to say that you oppose the increased contributions and voice concerns about workers unless you can bring forward alternative ideas on where we can find the £100 million per year that will otherwise be lost to our block grant.
“Despite the British Government’s threat to deduct £100 million a year from the Executive’s block grant if we refused to implement this move, we did not concede to that demand and the Executive resolved to deliver the required savings in such a way that protects lower paid workers.