Monday 18 December 2017

Average earnings at semi-State top wages at Google

Roisin Burke

Aviation authority workers get 'average' of €135k

THE average staffer at Google's European HQ earns less than semi-State employees at the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA).

A Google Ireland employee makes an average of €114,280 in salary, pension, social welfare and share-based pay, the multinational's latest accounts show.

With a €12.5bn turnover, Google Ireland is the nerve centre for the web search behemoth's massive sales operation across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

It has been growing and hiring fast, increasing its staff numbers by 22 per cent last year alone and employing 2,500 in Dublin since the end of last month.

At the IAA, the body that manages air traffic and regulation in Ireland, average staff pay including salary, pension and social welfare (measured on the same basis as Google's) is an impressive €135,635.

Google Ireland's total payroll cost across 1,916 staff in 2011 came to €218.95m, while the IAA employed 695 people with a total staff cost of €94.26m, according to its 2011 accounts.

While Google's staff earnings may be topped by those of the IAA's, the online giant offers a slew of income-saving perks to employees. There are free breakfasts and lunches, free haircuts, an employee gym, a planned on-site swimming pool for its Montevedro building, and a plethora of other perks -- including free beers on Fridays.

Other Irish semi-State companies' average earnings stack up strikingly well against one of the biggest private sector companies in the world.

Average pay in Dublin Port is €110,600 per employee including pension. At electricity provider ESB, it's €94,300 per employee including pay with pension and at Eirgrid it's €96,900. At utility firm Bord Gais, the average earning with pension for staff is €77,200.

Six-figure and high five- figure pay packets at semi-States are likely to come under mounting pressure as the drive to reduce the State's payroll ahead of and beyond December's Budget gets under way.

The Croke Park Agreement has been sacrosanct -- for now -- but rumblings about the State pay bill are increasing.

Public pay and pensions tot up to one-third of Government spend, essentially exempt from cuts under Croke Park. The public sector versus private sector pay gap could garner far more attention as we move forward, with previously off-limit pay options being considered.

Article 1.28 of the 2010 deal allows for an "inability to pay" clause, stating as it does that Croke Park's implementation is "subject to no currently unforeseen budgetary deterioration".

Economic deterioration since then has been marked. While GDP for 2012 was forecast to be over 4 per cent, it is averaging at a fraction of that.

That said, the Government may be keen to avoid stand-offs with unions on pay and stick initially to the lower hanging fruit of allowances and voluntary redundancies to cut wage bills.

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