Public sector PAYE workers earn more

A THIRD of all PAYE workers who earn over €100,000 per annum are employed in the public sector, according to figures supplied by the Revenue Commissioners.

The data also provides further proof that public sector employees are more likely to earn higher salaries than PAYE workers in the private sector.

Information collected by Revenue shows that just under 15,300 senior staff in the public sector earn a six-figure salary. They represent 3.7% of all people employed by the state. In contrast, just 31,500 people, or 2%, of private sector workers earn in excess of €100,000.

The figures show that 25% of all state employees earn over €50,000 per annum, but just over 13.6% of PAYE workers in the private sector earn the same amount.

They also reveal that there are many poorly paid workers employed in state bodies, with almost 114,000 public servants earning an annual salary of less than €20,000, although many of these positions may be on a part-time basis.

Although 28% of public sector staff earn less than €20,000, over 45% of PAYE employees in the private sector have similar earnings.

The figures are contained in response to a parliamentary questions submitted by Labour finance spokeswoman Joan Burton. They are based on income tax returns for 2007 and represent 96% of all returns due from PAYE workers.

They cover the salaries to civil servants and public servants, including teachers, nurses, doctors, gardaí, members of the Defence Forces and Health Service Executive staff, but exclude salaries of dentists and vets.

Private sector PAYE workers are also more likely to be earning less than the average industrial wage of €32,370 than their counterparts in the public sector.

The data shows 201,727 public sector employees, or 48.7% of all public servants, compared with 55.2% of all private sector workers, earn less than the average industrial wage.

The findings are likely to place further pressure on the Government to address the public sector wage bill, as public service workers enjoy some of the highest rates of public servants anywhere in the EU.

They also appear to confirm the view of many commentators that the controversial benchmarking initiative has widened the gap between private and public salaries. Trade union leaders have begun to complain about the accuracy of earning figures of public sector workers collated by the Central Statistics Office in the past year which show state employees are comparatively better off than their private counterparts.

The latest CSO figures published last week show that public service pay had risen by over 3% on average over the past 12 months to June.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen has already warned trade unions representing civil servants that the Government wants to cut €1.3 billion off the public sector wage bill in the budget on December 9.

Ms Burton said they showed the importance of how the tens of thousands of high earning civil servants at the top need to lead by example.

“Whilst many public sector workers are poorly paid, at the top level of the service payments are really high,” said Ms Burton.

Meanwhile, the Irish Federation of University Teachers has criticised pay increases of up to 19% which have been awarded to the heads of several top third-level colleges, despite widespread cutbacks in the education sector.

UCD president Hugh Brady and the provost of Trinity College, John Hegarty, have both been granted pay hikes of 19% which were first due to be paid two years ago.

Over 400 senior professors have also received pay increases of over 5% which will be backdated.

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