Private-sector pay falls as public workers enjoy hike
PRIVATE sector workers' wages continued to fall last year as public employees saw their pay rise.
The recession is taking a significant bite out of private workers' pay packets, new Central Statistics Office figures reveal.
However, public sector workers saw their wages rise thanks to pay increments.
Trade unions, who are currently balloting their members on the latest public service deal from the Government, yesterday dismissed the figures, saying they did not include the average 7pc in pension levies imposed on the public sector last year.
"When reporting a net increase in public service pay, the CSO figures do not take account of the so-called 'pension levy" applied to all public sector pay in March 2009," a spokesperson for the IMPACT trade union told the Irish Independent.
A government source agreed the latest CSO figures did not reflect "the reality of the cuts in 2009".
But he added that our overall economic woes were putting the unions under increased pressure to accept the Croke Park deal.
The latest offer from the Government includes a commitment that there will be no further public sector pay cuts until 2014 at least.
The unions have agreed to implement extensive reforms in work practices and conditions of employment throughout the entire public service.
According to the CSO figures, in the private sector, gross wages fell by 2.7pc to €607.15 per week while public sector pay was up 1.9pc to €948.16 in the year ended November 2009.
Overall average weekly earnings in the third quarter were down 0.8pc to €691.27.
Economists last night said they had expected the overall drop to be more dramatic, but added we would see a difference when the pension levies and cuts were factored in.
"The bottom-line drop in wages will be higher when we see the net figures because the pension levies will be included," Davy Stockbrokers chief economist Rossa White said.
An hourly breakdown of the figures shows wages were up by 1.8pc in the year ended the third quarter of 2009 as employers looked to cut costs from other areas of the business before hitting wages.
"Employers seem to be leaving earnings as the last area they cut; while hours are being cut the hourly wage is not being hit as much," CSO senior statistician Kieran Walsh said.
Hourly earnings in the private sector were up marginally by 0.6pc to €18.95. But in the public sector the increase was 2.2pc to €29.74, reflecting increments.
Labour costs increased by 2.1pc in the year, mainly as a result of the high level of redundancy payments.