90,000 jobs to be slashed: Unions
Ireland's leading trade unionists have claimed the Government's budget blueprint will cost 90,000 jobs.
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions said the combination of harsh spending cuts and substantial tax hikes could force people out of work. The umbrella trade union group also insisted a protest march planned for Saturday afternoon in Dublin will not be hijacked by militants.
General Secretary David Begg said the government has no mandate for four years of cuts and tax rises.
He added: "Trade unions are very organised. We've had three or four marches in the last two years and there's never any trouble. There's no place on them for people who want to cause trouble. We have taken every precaution to ensure that it doesn't happen and we are confident that it won't happen."
The Croke Park deal, which protects public servants' pay and working regime, remains untouched by the National Recovery Plan.
But the Government envisages 25,000 public sector workers will be laid off, a 10% pay reduction for new staff in the sector and reduced pension entitlements while cuts are also being lined up for pensions of retired former public servants. It is also intent on driving productivity.
Congress president Jack O'Connor said the trade union movement was reluctant to call on a democratically-elected government to stand down. But he said Congress believed it would be better if people could go to the polls and vote on the budget plans.
"It is abundantly clear that this Government doesn't have a mandate to sign off on a plan as controversial as this," Mr O'Connor said.
Congress officials are due to meet a delegation from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund on Friday, with the march taking place from Wood Quay in Dublin city centre to the GPO on O'Connell Street on Saturday at 11am.
Congress said it will liaise closely with gardai ahead of the march and will have trained stewards to marshal protesters.