Achtung! Have you seen the size of the Irish salaries?
Published 20/11/2010 | 05:00
Anybody who thinks salaries can't fall in Ireland should look at what's been happening in Germany where wages are often startlingly low by Irish standards, and where many professions have endured massive cuts over the past two decades.
German hospital consultants, for instance, earn an average of €6,400 a month; significantly less than half what their Irish counterparts are paid.
Some 20 years ago, a Germany hospital's average monthly salary was €8,780, which means that German doctors have seen their salaries halve when adjusted for inflation.
Many other well-paid professions have also seen their salaries fall. Company bosses, for example, earn an average of €3,840 a month in Germany, compared with €4,920 back in 1990.
Some professions earn more or less what their Irish counterparts get. School teachers are paid around €4,650, which is much the same as their counterparts here, while architects earn €4,490, which is also good by Irish standards where few architects have a job at all.
But most Germans earn far less than people here; fire fighters pull in €3,010, while secretaries must make do with €2,600. Farmers earn an average of €2,350. A nurse, a baker or a carer in an old people home earns between €2,000 and €2,100, or roughly what an unemployed person here in Ireland can earn. A supermarket cashier can expect around €1,680.
This hasn't gone unnoticed in Germany where one German MP expressed amazement last year at the salaries paid to our politicians and senior civil servants.
German parliamentarian Hans Joachim Fuchtel noted he was paid €92,000 to represent 280,000 people in Germany's Black Forest region while TDs here get more than €100,000 to represent 25,000 people each.
Mr Fuchtel is also limited to claiming a maximum of €44,400 in taxable expenses every year, whereas our TDs claim about €67,000 each.
These pay imbalances go all along the line with Chancellor Angela Merkel earning €250,000 or €7,024 less than Brian Cowen's salary before the pension levy.