Public sector pay falls €42.75 per week in 3 years

As the Government seeks further cuts to public sector pay, it has emerged that gross week earnings in the sector have fallen by almost six times more than those in the private sector.

According to the CSO’s latest earnings and labour costs report, in the three years to the end of 2012, public sector earnings fell by €42.75 per week or 4.4%. That compared to a decline of €7.60 per week or 1.2% in the private sector.

The public service wages are operating off a higher baseline — in the fourth quarter of 2012, the average weekly wage in the private sector was €623.43 compared to €921.99.

Niall Shanahan of public sector union Impact said he was not surprised by the disparity.

He said it confirmed how most employers were dealing with the downturn with a pattern of reducing costs by numbers, not pay-cuts.

Mr Shanahan said the reduction in public sector pay had been led by the pay cut across the service in 2009. He said the weekly fall in wages recorded by the CSO was based on gross pay, and the loss to public sector workers was actually greater when one took into account the pension levy.

The report also shows the number of people employed in the public service and semi-state sector fell by 9,100 in the year to the end of 2012. At that point, there were 381,800 employed.

Since 2008, the total number of state employees has fallen by 45,000.

Meanwhile, in the private sector, weekly earnings increased in nine of the 13 economic sectors over the year. There was rare good news for the construction sector, which saw the biggest increase at 5.8%.

That compared to a 6.5% decrease in the pay in the professional, scientific, and technical sector.

However, it is clear that construction workers have been hit hard, with their wages falling by 11.1% between 2008 and 2012.

Over the same period, the communication and information sector actually saw a 4.3% increase. The average weekly earnings in that sector at the end of last year was €1,000.88. It is the only part of the private sector where staff were earning a four-figure weekly salary.

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