Irish public service pay is in line with similar EU countries, says IMPACT

Ireland’s largest public service union today (Saturday) said that Irish public service pay was broadly in line with comparable EU countries. The union, which was responding to media reports of a draft European Commission report, said the pay of some large groups of Irish public servants actually lags behind their counterparts in Germany.

IMPACT said the IMF reported in September that Irish public service pay was 11.2% of GDP compared to an average of 11.1% for OECD countries who are members of the EU. These figures do not take account of the so-called ‘pension levy’ which reduces Irish public servants’ pay by an average of 7%. “In other words, Irish public service pay is roughly in line with comparable EU countries as a percentage of GDP even before you deduct the so-called ‘pension levy,”  said IMPACT’s head of communications Bernard Harbor.

The union said comprehensive OECD data on international public sector labour costs found only two groups – hospital consultants and top central government managers – were paid above international standards. In general, the OECD says that the cost of employing Irish public servants is about average.

Mr Harbor said research conducted for IMPACT shows that certain large groups of Irish public servants – including clerical officers and primary teachers – are paid less than their German counterparts at every stage of their careers, even though the cost of living is 17% higher here.

Official figures show that  less than 2% of Irish public servants earn over €100,000 a year. 45% of public servants earn less than €40,000 a year. 68% of public servants earn less than €50,000 a year. 82% of public servants earn less than €60,000 a year. 90% of public servants earn less than €70,000 a year.

IMPACT also rejected claims of a “large and unexplained” gap between public and private sector pay in Ireland. Last October (2012) the Central Statistics Office produced the most comprehensive report on the issue. It acknowledged that economists here and abroad disagree about how to compare pay in the two sectors, but said the ‘gap’ was decreasing regardless of the methodology used.

The CSO report found that the pre-pension levy pay gap for men ranges between 2% and 14%. The pay gap is wider for women at between 9% and 20%. So, when the pension levy is applied the public service pay ‘premium’ ranges from minus-5% to plus-7% for men, and from 2% to 13% for women.

These are aggregate figures, which do not attempt to compare the pay of specific jobs with similar skills and education requirements, experience, or levels of responsibility.

Mr Harbor said: “The Croke Park agreement has so far delivered recurring annual savings of €1.5 billion and is on target to deliver net savings of €3.3 billion by 2015. Next week unions and management will enter negotiations aimed at increasing this by a further €1 billion a year. Unlike other countries in similar budgetary positions, this has been achieved without any industrial action or even the threat of industrial action.”

Read a full briefing HERE