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Public sector pay demands represent self-interest not the national interest

31st August 2022:  While we understand the pressure on public sector pay because of inflation, the fact is that the public service already enjoys wages that are 22% higher than the average private sector wage, and 46% higher than the average small business wage.

Public sector employees also have well-documented benefits and job security far  beyond those enjoyed by others in the workplace.

Neil McDonnell, CEO, ISME, said: “Ireland has number of concurrent crises to deal with including housing, inflation and security of energy supply. Tackling these issues will be capital-intensive and must  be the priority for Government, citizens and society. If we throw our budgetary space at the public sector, we diminish the ability to tackle the other, more urgent crises.

This is on top of the continuing impact and aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic; the ongoing uncertainty arising out of Brexit and the more recent and atrocious Russian invasion of Ukraine. We must NOT allow  reckless public service union self-interest prevailing over Ireland’s national interest.”

The Government must stand up to any threat of strikes by any Union in the public sector.  It has to take a balanced view for the other 85% of the workforce not working in the public service and it cannot allow itself to be informed or influenced by any Union threat to go on strike.

While all sectors of the economy are experiencing recruitment and retention pressures, these are least impactful in the public sector, which is still managing to poach employees away from the private sector. This cannot be much of a surprise, with the rates of pay on offer.

Neil McDonnell continued: “ISME does not oppose pay increases for the public sector. However, just as in the private sector, efficiencies, effectiveness, reform and ongoing change must take place to mitigate the overall cost to taxpayers. The only way to manage public sector pay expectations in Ireland is to set up a standing public sector pay commission, as they have in the UK.”

The public sector versus private sector pay gap experienced in Ireland is not found in other EU countries other than Portugal, Spain and Italy, where private sector wages are in fact far lower.


Issued on behalf of ISME by Heneghan

For information

Neil McDonnell – ISME – available for comment – (087) 299 5658

Nigel Heneghan – (086) 258 7206