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We can't cut wages of the fatcats in our semi-States

FATCAT bosses at semi-State companies won't have their massive wages reduced unless they cough up the cash voluntarily.

Enda Kenny was warned about the "straitjacket" of Government but is only now discovering the limit of his powers.

It has emerged that moneymen like ESB's Padraig McManus, the Dublin Airport Authority's David Gunning and Donal Connell of An Post live a charmed existence.

Bubble

Despite having wages of up to €750,000, the execs are living in a bubble.

A pay review has been set up to establish if semi-State employees here are being paid more than comparable workers.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin has admitted that many people would be "surprised and shocked" at the salaries on offer to executives.

But even if, as expected, the review shows they are overpaid there is little that the Government can do about it. In his report on the sale of State assets Colm McCarthy recommends that a comparison "should be undertaken of pay and conditions in all commercial State companies with those elsewhere in the Irish labour market and in competitor countries, in particular in the UK, in order to assure that the cost structures in these companies are competitive with their counterparts".

Mr McCarthy's report showed that 10 semi-State bosses are receiving annual pay and pension packages worth a total of €4.4m which were topped up by bonuses in 2009 and 2010.

He said: "The outcome of this review should determine the approach of economic regulators to costs allowable in tariff determination."

However, the Department of Finance does not have the power to force a cut in executives' wages if the pay rates are written into their contracts. And it cannot direct the semi-State companies to cut the wages of their workers either.

The McCarthy review found that the average wage for workers in the Irish Aviation Authority was €95,000.

Pension

At Eirgrid the figure was €83,000 while the ESB workers averaged €75,600. Bord Gais and Dublin Port employees are paid an average of €67,000 but the port is also paying an average of €43,000 per worker each year into its pension fund.

There are smaller averages at CIE (€49,000), Bord na Mona (€44,800), An Post (€43,000) and Coillte (€45,600).

The report adds: "In some cases, a reduction in the basic salary has been more than compensated for by an increase in other elements of the overall remuneration package."

kdoyle@herald.ie


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