Salaries for state jobs are uncompetitive, says union

The civil service is struggling to recruit staff in a number of key areas because salaries are not keeping pace with jobs in the private sector.

Public sector union Fórsa said State bodies are struggling to recruit, amongst others, cleaners, solicitors, meteorologists, radio officers, Oireachtas researchers and special education needs organisers.

At its civil service conference in Killarney, union official, Andy Pike, told reporters that civil service management should be given the flexibility to pay staff above the usual entry rates, where necessary, to attract suitably qualified staff: “The problem is starkest in professional and technical areas, but it’s not confined to these specialisms. Some civil service bodies have even struggled to hire cleaners in recent months.”

Fórsa said that, in a submission to the Public Service Pay Commission, it had pointed out that a recent competition for permanent civilian posts in Dublin Garda stations attracted so few applicants that it has to be repeated. It also raised ongoing problems with recruiting meteorologists.

“A recent panel for forecasters led to just three posts being filled, while eight candidates refused positions because of low starting salaries,” it said.

The union said a competition for special education needs organisers was equally unsuccessful. All but one of 20 qualifying candidates walked away because better deals were available in schools. It said salaries are also no longer competitive across the State’s laboratories, law offices and many specialist agencies.

Meanwhile, Fórsa insists that a return to “pre-crisis” hours must be a priority in talks on a successor to the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA). Most public servants saw an increase in hours in the downturn.

There were eight motions calling for a return to “pre-Haddington Road hours” submitted to the conference. Civil service division chairman, Niall McGurk, said that reflects strong feeling on the ground, and an expectation that the union would keep the issue on the agenda in future pay talks: “I fully support the principle that working time must remain a key Fórsa objective, along with other priorities like new entrants, pay equity and wider improvements in income for all the people we represent.”


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