Cathleen is a clerical officer in the Department of Education and a member of Fórsa’s Youth Committee.
In a compelling interview with journalist Brian Hutton, Cathleen described the experience of trying to make ends meet, and paying rent in Dublin, on a take home pay of €370 per week.
This works out at €9.86 per hour. That’s 31 cent more than the statutory minimum wage, and over €2 less than the living wage.
Cathleen left short-term contracts in US tech multinationals for “stability and security” in the civil service. She told the Irish Times: “People think civil servants are all earning this big money, on these great pensions. But that is not true for the vast majority of us.
“For every secretary general there are hundreds on lower ranks, earning considerably less. When I get a pension, it will really be a State pension with a small top-up.”
Delegates at Fórsa’s national conference in May passed a number of motions calling for the living wage to be established as the minimum entry point for public service workers.
Youth Committee chairperson Osal Kelly praised Cathleen for taking part in the interview. “It takes courage to speak so publicly about your personal experiences but Cathleen has done a great service in doing so and in showing in such relatable terms how difficult it is for public servants appointed on the lower starting points to make ends meet.
“It’s good to have articles like this to counter the misconceptions out there about public sector pay and pensions. As Cathleen points out, pensions are another area where there is huge inequality for younger public servants, and those of us who are new entrants will have a pension that is worth 25% less than the standard pension,” he said.
You can read Cathleen’s full interview here.
Related: Almost 1,000 civil servants paid less than living wage – The Irish Times (Monday 16th July).