Monday 24 July 2017

Job for life, good pay and a generous pension - only in the public sector

Public pay increases will absorb all of the available budget at a time when the economic outlook risks turning gloomy

'The Government responded perversely to this extraordinary state of affairs, conceding a €50m pay deal to gardai late last year under threat of illegal strike action' (stock photo)
'The Government responded perversely to this extraordinary state of affairs, conceding a €50m pay deal to gardai late last year under threat of illegal strike action' (stock photo)
Colm McCarthy

Colm McCarthy

There is no budgetary scope for a fresh public service pay round, in addition to the increases in public pay already promised under the Lansdowne Road agreement and subsequent concessions to gardai and others.

The Public Service Pay Commission, in its report released last Tuesday, has very loudly fired the starting pistol for just such a round, despite evidence available to it that public pay in Ireland is high by European standards and relative to pay in comparable employments elsewhere in the Irish economy. The commission has also declined to recommend serious changes to public service pensions, while providing evidence that they are generous relative to what is available to everyone else. Successive governments have been deferring pension reform for over a decade and have permitted, with trade union complicity, the persistence of a two-tier pension system between public and private sectors.

In addition to pay and pensions, there is one further key metric in comparing public and private employment and that is conditions of service. Aside from non-pay terms such as holidays and sick leave, the critical item is job security. The sectoral breakdown of the Live Register does not contain a category for 'unemployed public servant', for the very good reason that there are none, at least not among the permanent and pensionable. A job with the Government is a job for life, everyone knows it and vacancies are regularly over-subscribed. The Irish Independent reported last July that: "Nearly 17,000 people have applied for 600 vacancies in An Garda Siochana, the Public Appointments Service (PAS) has confirmed, with about 28 candidates vying for each place. Despite the numbers, the competition is less intense than it was last year, when more than 23,000 applied to secure one of the 550 places that were then on offer."

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