Business Irish

Sunday 25 February 2018

Five-year freeze on pay is necessary -- Dimplex chief

Peter Flanagan

THERE should be more pay cuts followed by a national pay freeze for five years for Ireland to regain its competitiveness, according to a leading Irish businessman.

Sean O'Driscoll, who is chief executive of the world's largest electrical heating business, Glen Dimplex, told a conference of business leaders and academics that Ireland still hadn't regained the competitive edge that drove the economy during the boom.

"Initially the national wage agreements were necessary but the last two were far too excessive. Ireland was giving pay rises of 5pc per annum, and other countries were increasing pay by 2.5pc. As a result Ireland's competitiveness was compromised," he said.

"A five-year pay freeze will replenish the country and allow us to regain our competitiveness," he added.

Mr O'Driscoll was speaking in Dublin at the Lemass International Forum on the role of manufacturing in the country's economic recovery.


"We have heard a lot about the 'smart economy', but without a manufacturing industry there will be no smart economy. The Government needs to work to build an indigenous, export-driven, manufacturing industry," he concluded.

His words were echoed by a number of speakers at the forum, which has the economist and public servant TK Whitaker as its patron.

The general manager of Intel Ireland, Jim O'Hara, called for the country's education system and civil service to be revamped.

"The system as it is now lacks 21st century knowledge. It is stuck in a process which demands learning by rote and needs the best teachers for science, maths and related subjects. About 40pc of maths teachers, through no fault of their own, don't have a primary maths degree.

"We have a public service that's a good size for England; it needs to change," he said.

Dr Paul Duffy, head of manufacturing at Pfizer, said: "Most innovation happens on the factory floor and we don't hear about it. We have to encourage that." He added that that Ireland was well-placed for the pharmaceutical industry.

"Ireland has a unique advantage as a test centre for personalised medicine. In the near future, people will have a small machine in their home which will extract and analyse a person's blood and prescribe 40mg of a certain drug without the need of going to a doctor.

"Ireland, with an essentially homogeneous population, is well-suited to testing that sort of medication. Tailored drugs are the way forward.

"We have a drug that is very effective against lung cancer in 5pc of the population; you are going to see more of those sort of technologies."

Irish Independent

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