THEY are the men who have been at the forefront of the talks tasked with thrashing out a public pay deal with the Government.
Yesterday the general secretaries of the country’s main unions turned out to join workers at the Irish Congress Of Trade Unions (ICTU) rally where its general secretary David Begg gave the main speech.
While they were quick to stress that everybody needs to ‘shoulder the burden’ in the economic crisis, exactly how they are shouldering that burden themselves is a mystery.
Despite repeated requests, all but three of the main unions refused to divulge what their salaries are.
Begg’s office – whose union body ICTU has more than 750,000 members – was one of only three to answer the questions put to it.
The following unions refused to answer questions about their general secretaries: INO (Liam Doran), Mandate (John Douglas), TEEU (Owen Wills), CPSU (Blair Horan), and IBOA (Larry Broderick).
IBEC, the employers’ federation, also refused to answer questions about the salary of their chief, although they have made much in the press of the fact that Turlough O’Sullivan took a 6pc pay cut.
Members of other unions suggest Doran, Douglas, Wills, Horan, O’Sullivan, and Broderick will all be on a package of between €120,000 and €150,000 – over four times the average industrial salary.
Last night, Fine Gael’s spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Dr Leo Varadkar slammed the general secretaries’ silence.
He said: ‘Especially because of their very public involvement in the ongoing partnership talks, what the unions general secretaries earn is a legitimate matter of public interest.’
David Begg’s office said his salary was ‘on a par with an assistant secretary general in the civil service’ (€150,000), SIPTU secretary Joe O’Flynn’s salary is €124,884 and the highest paid union official is IMPACT’s Peter McLoone, who picks up more than €155,000..