Thursday 14 November 2019

Howlin's 'guilt trip' tactic highly unlikely to result in salary cuts

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

SEMI-state bosses are likely to ignore the Minister for Public Sector Reform Brendan Howlin's plan to use "moral persuasion" to force them to cut their large salaries.

The concept of moral persuasion outlined by the minister yesterday involves making threats to semi-states that do not bring their top level salaries down to the official €200,000 public sector pay cap.

The possible threats mentioned by Mr Howlin yesterday include refusing to renew the contracts of the semi-state bosses, or not re-appointing the board members who can influence pay and bonuses.

It is one of the only tactics available to the Government because the salaries of the semi-state bosses are contractually protected.

But management consultant Gerard Flynn cast doubt on the effectiveness of this tactic by saying some people's sense of self-worth outweighed "any moral persuasion whatsoever".

"Those who really want to show leadership and earn respect for themselves and their organisations would have faced up to this a long time ago. We're three years into this crisis -- it's a bit late in the day to ask people to consider it now," he said.


The Government is going to set up a pay review to examine the pay packets of semi-state bosses such as ESB chief executive Padraig McManus (€750,000) and Dublin Airport Authority chief executive Declan Collier (€568,000).

Mr Howlin pointed out yesterday that Taoiseach Enda Kenny had shown leadership by reducing his salary to €200,000.

"There is a determination of Government to address this issue because it was one that caused considerable concern and outrage," he told RTE.

It came as Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore yesterday insisted in the Dail there was "no rush" to dispose of state assets recommended for sale by the group chaired by economist Colm McCarthy.

He said any disposal would only be considered in light of the state of the markets.

Sinn Fein TD Mary Lou McDonald meanwhile had warned that the Government was preparing to go down the cul-de-sac of selling state assets in a bid to pay bank and bondholder debts.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News