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Monday 21 August 2017

State workers earn 5pc more than private sector - but gap has narrowed

The young Spaniard posted fliers on lampposts hoping to make contact. Stock Image: PA
The young Spaniard posted fliers on lampposts hoping to make contact. Stock Image: PA

Anne-Marie Walsh

Public servants earn 5pc more than private sector workers but the gap between their pay has narrowed in the past few years.

New figures compiled by the Central Statistics Office show that the difference in earnings between the sectors stood at 9pc in 2011, but three years later fell to 5pc.

The figures were released as public service unions are about to enter talks that could lead to further pay rises following moderate increases being awarded under the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

Unions are demanding acceleration of the "restoration" of €1.4bn of remaining cuts that were imposed under emergency legislation at the discussions on a successor deal, due to begin in May.

Senior statistician Ken Moore said a detailed analysis of workers in the two sectors in permanent full-time jobs was carried out because of the variety of work carried out and the differences in employers in both sectors.

He said the overall trend shown was that the gap between public and private sector pay has narrowed when a number of factors were used to compare workers in both sectors.

The analysis took into account differences in employees in terms of their service, occupations, education and their employers' organisation size to explore the wage gap.

"Comparing pay in the public and private sectors is not a straightforward task," he said.

"Complexity arises as the two sectors comprise a variety of different industries, occupations and workers with differing education, experience and skill sets."

The survey showed the pay gap for men in the public sector ranged from some earning 3.9pc more than their private sector counterparts, to some earning 6pc less.

Among women, State employees' pay ranged from 6pc to 16pc higher than private sector workers' wages.

Read more: The Monday Interview: For the sake of our country we had to cut public pay

The statisticians also drew up separate figures after deducting a levy being paid by public servants towards their pensions, which means they make higher contributions than they did before the recession.

When they did this, the lowest paid public servants earned 11pc more than their private sector counterparts. However, the top 10pc of public service earners took home 12pc less than workers in the private sector.

Myth

Unite claimed the figures "explode" the "public sector pay premium myth". It said overall, public sector workers were paid slightly less than comparable workers in the private sector. It said this was borne out in the figures in which the value of the pension levy was deducted from earnings. They showed public servants earn 0.6pc less than private sector employers.

"As we head into talks on a successor to the Lansdowne Road Agreement, today's CSO report explodes the myth of a public sector pay premium and allows us to debate the issues on the basis of fact," Unite regional co-ordinating officer Richie Browne said.

He said emergency cuts and extra hours worked for free should be reversed, and additional pay rises given "in line with our international comparators who have enjoyed pay increases from 2010 to the present".

However, Ibec has argued that public servants do not pay much into their pensions compared with the benefits they receive. In addition, most private sector workers have no pensions.

Irish Independent

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