Wednesday 14 November 2018

Revealed: A startling array of perks on offer for ESB staff

'Spoilt' workers enjoy range of bizarre allowances

Anne-Marie Walsh and Brendan Keenan

A STARTLING array of perks and pay allowances for ESB staff can be revealed for the first time today.

A confidential document shows staff at the semi-state are entitled to a wide range of allowances on top of their basic pay, overtime, and pension contributions.

Individual allowances can be worth up to €6,000 a year, and workers can benefit from more than one type, the Irish Independent has learned.

Details of the extra cash on offer come after ESB union boss Brendan Ogle described its workers as "spoilt".

He also said they enjoyed frequent "gravy" to stop them going on strike.

The controversy over pay and benefits at the ESB has erupted as its customers face a price hike of 12pc next month, adding €120 a year to the average annual bill.

Annual allowances at the ESB include extra cash for "availability", and being "on call", plus "oil tanker attendance", as well as "first aid" and "qualification" allowances and bonuses for some grades of staff.

The Irish Independent has also learned that pay at the state-owned energy supplier in the Republic is more than double that of colleagues in the North.

A simple measure of payroll costs shows the average annual ESB salary, excluding pension contributions, stood at €85,000 last year, compared with €41,000 at the Viridian Group.

Viridian previously operated Northern Ireland Electricity until it was sold to the ESB last year.

The pay and perks have never come to light because the commercial semi-state companies are exempt from Freedom of Information legislation.

Insiders said the pay scales and entitlements revealed in the ESB were built up -- mainly through union negotiation -- over the years.

Sources said staff at ESB subsidiaries where pay and conditions were lower felt they were being treated as "second-class citizens".

"There is quite a bit of disquiet among staff in the subsidiaries as the company told them their pay was benchmarked against market rates."

It is unclear what exactly some of the allowances are for -- because the ESB refused to give details on the allowances or the number of staff who benefit from them.


However, the state-owned energy company justified the payments and said they were necessary.

"ESB's operations require appropriate resource flexibility and competence, to ensure we deliver and maintain a safe and reliable electricity infrastructure," said a spokesman.

"We have on-call and shift arrangements in place to ensure staff are available . . . around the clock throughout the year.

"These arrangements are recognised in our pay structures, as they are for every electricity company in the world."

The internal document seen by the Irish Independent reveals that graduate engineers start on €38,997 a year and wages rise to €95,064 for senior specialists.

A variety of allowances are also paid including salary allowances and production support allowances.

An allowance is paid to engineers for being available for work at any time and is worth up to €4,816 a year.

Accounting, administrative, technical and supervisory staff grades' pay ranges from €27,231 to €93,201 at the upper end of the scale.

The pay of the executive chef at the head office restaurant rises to €50,703, while canteen manager pay can rise to €44,917.

The ageing workforce at the commercial semi-state company means many staff have reached the upper end of their pay scales.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News