Wednesday 21 March 2018

Low pay is 'putting external candidates off' public service

Eoin Ronayne, head of the Civil Public and Services Union Photo: Steve Humphreys
Eoin Ronayne, head of the Civil Public and Services Union Photo: Steve Humphreys

Anne-Marie Walsh

The public service has become a "revolving door" for private sector staff as they are forced to start on the lowest pay rung regardless of their experience.

A union has said previous work experience should be recognised for entry grades to the civil service, whose starting salaries are 10pc lower than they were six years ago.

General Secretary of the Civil Public and Services Union, Eoin Ronayne, said prior experience should be recognised as entry level pay is putting external candidates off.

He said axing the lowest salary points on the pay scales for new entrants will be a key union demand if the Lansdowne Road agreement is renegotiated.

Under a ministerial order that was issued during the crisis in Exchequer funding at the end of 2010, new recruits cannot use their experience to get better pay.

It used to be the case that in some positions, it was possible for an external recruit to negotiate a higher entry point based on their experience, particularly in higher grades.

"People with experience will not come next or near to the place," said Mr Ronayne.

"As part of the cuts, there was a letter from the minister to all public service bodies to recruit at the minimum points, where there may have been latitude for discretion in the past, particularly for higher grade posts. That's made doubly offensive as we have new entrant scales for clerical officers that are two points below what they were.

"It's bad enough that you have to come in at [that] entry point, but now you are two points below what your predecessors came in on.

"We have members coming in and saying, 'I have five or 10 years experience in a high-pressure private sector job and all they are giving me is €21,000'. One guy I was in touch with thought he could saunter in to his boss and negotiate to get a few points up the scale."

A spokesperson at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform confirmed that the measure was introduced at the end of 2010.

"Starting pay on recruitment from open competitions for all posts within the public service should be at the minimum of the relevant salary grade," she said.

Irish Independent

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