So, public sector pay is back on the radar. The publication by the CSO of the recent public/private sector pay comparisons has given rise to the usual outpourings from the organs of media billionaires. The facts on the face of it seem stark : see the graph. However, beyond the bilious soundbits of bitter hacks, a different, complex, story emerges. That there is a wedge, whereby public sector pay is on average greater than private, is a fact. The issue is why : some may simply think it to be capture of the coffers, others might note that one is comparing apples and tomatoes.
Color me cynical but the leaking of the pay deals made with senior executives in charitable health organizations seems to me to be an effort to mudsmear and distract from the ongoing disaster that is the management of the Irish Health sector.
In any case, the government has been talking tough on this saying that pay caps across the public sector and related must be adhered to.
In which case, we can expect to see the massive salaries of special advisors being cut can we? Theres a cap of 92k there. Of the 10 Special Advisors who earn more than the cap 5 are for Labour ministers. Thats punching well above their weight in cabinet. And lets not forget the bankers, on whose pay the Minister for Finance professed himself ‘powerless‘ .
I have no idea what these special advisors do. Some I have had minor contact with over the years and they struck me as smart and dedicated people. Do they deserve to be paid more than the heads of some of the most critical aspects of the health sector? Or bankers? If the criteria, as it seems to be, is that if the preponderance of your money comes from the state you adhere to the state pay rule, fair enough. But lets not cut funds to the CRC when we are paying the press advisor for the minister for sport over 100k PA.
- Mark Kennelly, Chief of Staff €168,000*
- Andrew McDowell, Special Adviser €168,000*
Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore:
- Mark Garrett, Chief Adviser €168,000*
- Colm O’Reardon, Economic Adviser €155,000*
Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney:
- Ross MacMathuna, Special Adviser €110,000*
Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton:
- Edward Brophy, Special Adviser €127,796*
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin:
- Ronan O’Brien, Special Adviser €114,000*
Minister for Enterprise Jobs and Innovation Richard Bruton:
- Ciaran Conlon, Special Adviser €127,000*
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar:
- Brian Murphy, Press Adviser €105,837*
Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte:
- Simon Nugent, Special Adviser €97,200*
So Richie Boucher, the CEO of Bank of Ireland, is on a salary and benefits package of over 800k. The BoI AGM is on today, and the Irish taxpayer owns 15% of BoI. The minister for finance has declined to vote to reduce this package (and that of the part time chairman…). At the same time the other minister for finance Brendan Howlin, has more or less decided to ignore the vote of public sector and will (despite having said he will get the labour relations commission to investigate how to ) impose or assume the pay cuts voted down.
This softly softly approach to Bank of Ireland contrasts massively with the hectoring bullying approach being taken to the public sector. While BoI has done ok over the last year and Boucher’s tenure it is up the reality is it is still in the intensive care ward. If it finds itself needing billions more it wont go to the markets but to us. So, what applies to me should apply to Richie. But, it wont. So, why is it ok to treat Richie different? Are the richies that different
So it seems that the police are running out of money, with reports (here, here) that the force will not have the funds this year to pay for its complement. The commissioner has stated before that he would not like to see, and would feel that he cant really deliver a service, if numbers fall below 13,000. Complement now stands at 13,400. If you are unsure of what a police officer in modern ireland actually does see this reflection of an officer leaving. I suspect that the cuts in numbers will, as usual, fall on frontline services. When, as RTE news reports this morning, the first person appointed in a murder investigation is not a lead detective, or a forensic analyst, but a financial controller, we have left logic far behind and are on the shores of la-la land.
There is a bit of a meme out there that instead of cutting numbers we should cut pay in the public service. Without doubt there are areas where police pay is rather….strange. There are lots of unusual allowances and these need to be worked out over time. But the principle, of cutting pay and retaining numbers, is interesting. The logic, that instead of cutting 10% of the force we should cut 10% of the pay from the existing force, is one of the seductive logical traps. Why not cut 20%, and INCREASE the force. Hell, why not cut 50%, or 85% and get a cop on every corner? Of course, thats never argued. But its the logical counterpart of this.
Karl Whelan once noted to me that there are a lot of people out there who feel that any wage greater than zero is too much for public sector workers. Hes right, I think….