Pay people what job is worth; no more, no less

The fallout from the salary top-ups, extracted from charitable donations, and paid to executives in the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) continues. It has been reported that some charities’ donations are down 40% since the scandal was first reported.

The Society of St Vincent De Paul (SVP) this week revealed that Christmas donations to the charity were down 25%, or €300,000, compared to 2012.

SVP has an enviable record of giving help to the poor and needy. Geoff Meagher, its national president, has stated that SVP fully supports the regulation of charities. He stressed that its accounts are published in full every year. It’s also been stated that SVP spends 92% of charitable donations on frontline services while only 8% is used for administrative purposes.

The accounts of charities are not as transparent as we would like. If they were, this scandal would not have happened — the information would be there for all to see.

It would be helpful if charities not guilty of diverting donations for salary top-ups or other unethical or illicit purposes were to speak up now and confirm that this is the case. This would allow us to continue to support the charities that conform to our expectations. Telling porkies or misrepresentation at this stage would not be a good idea.

Interestingly, the CRC scandal has raised another issue that does not appear to have received much coverage: how salaries in the state sector are determined.

In the banking sector, salaries are determined by what the equivalent person in a rival organisation is getting and then adding a bit. It starts a vicious circle but at least there’s a basis, however asinine that might be.

Where the public sector is concerned, we have no idea how salary scales are determined. The benchmarking exercises of the last decade simply increased salaries in the public sector.

The working papers showing the methodology and reasoning were then destroyed before anybody could examine and understand how the considerable pay increases were decided. This single long-term commitment from the State’s coffers has contributed to the dire position in which we find ourselves.

How could anyone agree that the chief executive of a major organisation such as the CRC was only worth a salary of €83,000 and change? Prior to the salary cuts of recent years, there were people in many State organisations on similar wages. I’m sure they think they are worth it, too.

Maybe they are, but in comparison to the requirements for the chief executive of a major healthcare organisation, their role is pedestrian and does not carry even remotely as much responsibility.

Our senior civil servants, politicians, and indeed the boards of these organisations now in the limelight, may be lots of things, but they are not stupid.

They must have realised their salary bore no relationship to the level of responsibility required. Maybe they ignored the matter, thinking the monies would be made up from another source — a clear case of see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

It’s this ‘nod and wink’ attitude that has brought us to where we are today. We need to lose it. We should pay people what the job is worth; no more, no less. Charitable donations should be used for the purposes that those giving the donation wish.

Finally, the ‘I’m a senior politician and I’m worth it’ award of the week has to be Labour chief whip Emmet Stack who receives over €97,000 per annum plus, of course, generous expenses. He believes that he would be earning more as a plumber. This man is a Labour politician. How much more out of touch can you get?

Another case of a guy getting far too much for his own good.


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