Fórsa hit back at a business lobby’s call for the reintroduction of deep public service pay cuts last week, after the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises (ISME) association called for the gap between average pay in the public and private sectors to be reduced to 10% by 2025.
The union questioned the entire basis of ISME’s position, and said it was effectively a call for deeper public service pay cuts than those imposed during the economic crisis. The employers’ group issued its call following the Central Statistics Office’s publication of its latest pay survey, which recorded the biggest jump in pay across the economy since the recession hit in 2009.
The CSO found that average weekly earnings increased by 2.5% in 2017. Fórsa head of communications Bernard Harbor said this was welcome after almost a decade of pay stagnation and cuts in the public, private, semi-state and voluntary sectors.
“After almost a decade of pay stagnation, Fórsa welcomes the fact that pay is improving in all sectors of the economy, albeit at a modest pace. ISME should welcome this too, as its members benefit when we have a little more to spend on the products and services they sell,” he said.
Harbor also rejected the attack on the so-called public-private pay gap. “The CSO is crystal clear that its figures do not attempt to compare the pay of people doing the same or similar jobs in the public and private sectors. It also says that recent improvements in public service pay are a result of partial restoration of recession-era pay cuts.
“The CSO figures do not take account of the actual jobs that people do, their qualifications, age, experience, trade union membership, or other factors that account for differences in earnings,” he added. An earlier CSO report, which took these determinants into account found that the public sector pay gap ranged from -0.36% to +5.05% in 2014, depending on the methodology used and the way the so-called pension levy was treated.
Last week’s CSO report
showed that average earnings in finance, the highest-paid sector, were almost three times higher than the lowest-paid accommodation and food sector.