Wednesday 18 September 2019

Lobby groups and unions stonewall on executive salaries

Larry Broderick, general secretary, IBOA (Irish Bank Officials Association)
Larry Broderick, general secretary, IBOA (Irish Bank Officials Association)

Shane Phelan and Adam Cullen

Several major representative bodies keeping the salary packages of their leading executives secret are also now refusing to even say whether or not they have remuneration committees.

A survey by the Irish Independent of unions and lobby groups who are silent on executive pay found most were also unwilling to provide details of who within their organisation had oversight on pay issues.

The refusal to disclose even the most basic of information in relation to corporate governance structures will further fuel debate over poor transparency levels in many leading representative bodies.

Nineteen groups out of 34 contacted earlier this week declined to provide information on what their general secretary or CEO earned, despite the fact those packages were either partly or fully funded through membership subscriptions.

Since then, only one of those 19 has publicly confirmed the salary of its general secretary.

The Irish Bank Officials' Association said Larry Broderick was on €139,354 a year and had the use of a union car.

It said salaries were set by the union's executive committee, which consists of 35 rank-and-file members.

The Construction Industry Federation (CIF), Garda Representative Association (GRA), Irish Postmasters' Union and the Irish Pharmacy Union maintained their position that they would not disclose the salary of their leading official.

However, these bodies were happy to provide information on how executive pay was set and what committees had oversight on the issue.

The CIF said that in addition to having a remuneration committee, its president, Michael Stone, was aware of staff remuneration packages and was happy to brief members who required such information.

The GRA said its general secretary's pay was set by a central executive committee. It is also set out by the executive and submitted for ratification at annual conferences.

Postmasters' union general secretary Ned O'Hara said the union's two full-time employees and one part-time worker earned €157,447 between them, with no additional perks.

He said individual pay rates were confidential, but had to be approved by a national executive.

"I think my salary is entirely a private matter between myself and my employer," he said.

A spokesman for the Irish Pharmacy Union said the salary of its general secretary, Darragh O'Loughlin, was set by a finance committee, made up of the organisation's president, vice-president, treasurer and a past president.

Eleven bodies contacted yesterday provided no response when asked to provide details of whether or not they had remuneration committees.

These were the Communications Workers' Union, IBEC, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association, INMO, ISME, the Law Society, the Licensed Vintners Association, Mandate, RGDATA, the TEEU and the Vintners' Federation of Ireland.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe yesterday reiterated his call for the need for more transparency on executive pay at representative organisations.

"Many of the organisations that were covered in the Irish Independent have large membership bases. Those members pay for the salaries and packages of officers within that organisation," he told RTÉ Radio.

"I believe, if for no other reason, the members of those organisations should be entitled to know how their money is being used."

Irish Independent

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