ISME calls for public sector pay commission

The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, has called for an independent Public Sector Pay Commission to determine all future pay arrangements across the public sector.

The association warned that as long as elected politicians were responsible for public sector pay setting they will pander to that sector to get their votes and retain power. Recent CSO figures on earnings and labour costs show the difference between public and private sectors is 44.6 per cent (€905 - €626 ). When compared to the average wages in a small business (€537 ) the differential rises to 68.5 per cent.

Commenting on the issue, ISME CEO Mark Fielding said: “It is high time that the CSO, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the ESRI and other agencies produced all the facts that would permit indisputable comparisons between Irish public and private sectors and between Ireland and its peers across the OECD. Comparisons that exclude pensions, perks, holidays, and other entitlements are meaningless.”

“A strong public sector is an important and essential component of any modern economy, but it has to be efficient, cost effective, and focused on delivering value for money. It’s clear that the task of achieving this cannot be left to politicians who allowed two spurious benchmarking exercises create massive anomalies. This is why the documentation that purported to justify the pay increases was destroyed as it would not bear public scrutiny.”

“Examining the difference in wage rates does not even begin to tell you the whole story here. Public sector employees also enjoy pension benefits, flexible hours, extra training, and additional annual leave; perks that would make your eyes water. It is unthinkable that private sector taxes fund this public sector largesse. An independent commission is urgently required to review and set public sector wage rates.”

The ISME has called for an international-led commission to review public sector wages, conditions, perks, and increments; improved efficiencies within the public sector to bring it to world class status; and the scrapping of the overly restrictive rules on outsourcing.

Mr Fielding said: “Two parallel worlds have been allowed to develop, one consisting of an increasingly affluent, sheltered, and costly public sector, first to the trough, and the other consisting of a private sector being squeezed by productivity challenges, competitiveness issues, and the globalisation process. The political interference in public sector pay-setting must be removed. An independent commission would ensure fairness, balance, and equity.”

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