5 October 2006 Edition

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Nuacht na nOibrithe

BY Justin Moran

INTO disputes report on public sector wages as incomplete

The Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) has strongly criticised a report from the ESRI, which claims that recent third level graduates are earning 30% more per hour in the public sector over private sector workers. The INTO has dismissed it as incomplete as it only examines starting wages, and is therefore incomplete.

"The ESRI report takes a single snap shot of starting salaries," said John Carr, General Secretary of the INTO. "Based on that picture it claims salaries in the public service are better than those in comparable private sector jobs. But this is not true over a life time.

Research commissioned by the INTO identifies reasonably comparable careers based on the qualification and skills required. It points out that most teachers remain as classroom teachers throughout their careers and stay on a basic salary scale. Private sector graduates expect to be promoted on a regular basis.

In the private sector graduates get higher salaries further up the career ladder while teachers are on the same scale for most if not all of their career. Teachers' salaries have to be sufficient to recruit and retain graduates on their own and to continue to provide for such graduates and their families over time.

The INTO's research compares teachers against a 'basket' private sector careers and using results from specialist recruitment consultants establishes that after five years:

  • An accountant in the private sector is earning 141% of a teacher's salary.
  • A mechanical engineer in the private sector is earning 127% a teacher's salary.
  • An account manager in the private sector is earning 122% a teacher's salary.
  • A HR Manager in the private sector is earning 115% a teacher's salary.

Two different worlds in Six Counties public sector

The contrast could not be more clear. Last week, trade union leaders were outraged at the revelation that David Gavaghan, chief executive of the Strategic Investment Board, received a total remuneration of £247,882 -- almost £18,000 more than his previous year's total of £229,991. It is believed this makes him the highest-paid public official in the Six Counties, earning a third more than the British Prime Minister.

At the other end of the scale, pay rates for civil servants in the North are below the new statutory minimum wage rate of £5.35 per hour. Government Departments have been forced by law to increase the pay rates for hundreds of frontline civil service staff to the new statutory rate which came into effect from 1 October.

"I believe our members in the Northern Ireland Civil Service will be outraged to read about the SIB chief executive's pay package in comparison with the hundreds of low-paid front line staff whose pay rates have to be increased on 1 October to comply with the new statutory minimum wage rate of just £5.35 per hour," said John Corey, General Secretary of NIPSA.

"Members will also be infuriated by the fact that the SIB is instrumental in trying to force hundreds of low paid civil service support staff to transfer to the private sector under the disgraceful Workplace 2010 PFI project to sell off Government offices in Northern Ireland.

"This could leave low-paid members with worse terms and conditions of employment."

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