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Monday 22 July 2019

Pay hikes for civil servants earning more than €70,000

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

Almost 3,000 civil servants on salaries over €70,000 are to get pay increases.

New figures from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform also reveal that the increments paid to the civil service are part of a total bill this year of €90m for all public servants, including gardai, nurses and teachers.

The data from the department shows that 2,776 civil servants on annual salaries between €70,000 and €150,000 are eligible for increments.

The payments are either annual increases or long-service payments, which are given at three- and six-year intervals in the civil service and are worth in the region of €3,000 each.

The long-service increments are given when workers have been in their job for a certain number of years after reaching the top of their pay scale.

The incremental pay scale for an assistant secretary who joined the civil service after 1995 rises in four stages from €134,523 to €153,885.

The highest principal officer grade gets an increase of €3,260 after six years' "satisfactory service" at the top of their scale, bringing their basic salary to €110,844.

However, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform's data also reveals the cost of increments in all sections of the public sector, excluding the local authorities, is expected to fall dramatically.

It says increments have cost no more than €180m per annum in the past and are expected to cost less than half that sum in 2012.

"With significantly reduced recruitment, the ongoing substantial fall in numbers of public servants, and higher numbers reaching the maxima of scales, this cost will continue to fall over the coming years," it said.

A debate has raged over the continued payment of the salary-scale increases, which are contractually part of the workers' terms and conditions.

Opposition

Fine Gael in opposition previously called for a freeze in the pay scales, and Leo Varadkar challenged every minister to state how many of their staff were getting long-service salary increments.

However, Labour's Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin, has defended their payment on the grounds that there are other, fairer ways of keeping public pay under control.

Unions have argued that any cuts in increments would affect lower-paid workers most, as they get more annual increments, while those at the top of their pay scales would be least affected.

The official data gives an insight into the extent of payment in one section of the public service, the civil service, which employs 31,618 workers.

The department does not have similar detailed figures on increments for any other section of the public sector.

It says a total of 63pc of the 31,618 workers in the civil service -- or 19,710 staff -- are eligible for an increment.

Of these, almost three-quarters, or 13,839, are on pay up to €50,000.

The data, which is revealed in correspondence from the chairman of the Croke Park deal's implementation body, PJ Fitzpatrick, to the Public Accounts Committee, also says up to €3.3bn will be saved in the paybill.

However, this depends on what year the calculations are based on.

He repeated figures he recently presented to the committee that a saving of €3.5bn, or 20pc, would be made from 2008 to 2015 in pay costs.

This will be offset by a €1.1bn rise in the pension bill in the same timeframe, reducing the saving to €2.4bn.

However, he says that if 2009 is taken as a starting point, "when the gross pay bill peaked", the figures show deeper savings.

In this shorter period, the pay bill will have dropped by €3.8bn, but the pension bill will have risen by €0.5bn, a saving of €3.3bn.

He also revealed that the implementation body cost taxpayers €167,500 last year.

Irish Independent

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