Semi-state bosses silent on appeal for voluntary cuts

SEMI-STATE bosses have remained silent on whether they would volunteer cuts to their massive pay packets after they were urged to “examine their conscience” on the issue.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin admitted his hands were tied from forcing a reduction to contractually agreed salaries, but urged executives to share in “carrying the burden”.

The highest paid civil servants, the secretaries general of all government departments yesterday agreed to a voluntary pay cut from €214,000 to €200,000.

But the chiefs of at least eight semi-state companies — where top salaries range from €300,000 to €750,000 — last night refused to commit to any such reductions.

Most would not comment on the Government’s announcement yesterday that new pay caps will be applied at €200,000 in the public sector and €250,000 for semi-state companies.

The pay ceiling will only apply to new recruits and not to current contract holders. But Mr Howlin appealed to semi-state bosses to voluntarily abide by the proposed caps. “We’d ask everybody to take a pay reduction in line with the new pay scales for each of the semi-states,” he said.

Both the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) and NAMA will escape the new rules, despite at least 16 workers earning over €200,000.

They are recruited on an individual basis and “not subject to pay norms”, Mr Howlin said.

But he expects them to “take stock of their position and to understand the very difficult situation this country is facing and the very significant cuts being faced [by] every family and individual”.

The new pay ceiling excludes bonuses and perks.

Mr Howlin said this will be looked at separately and will “have to be related to performance and set goals and individually validated”.

Top pay at ESB will fall to €318,000 when a new chief executive takes over from Padraig McManus, who earned €752,000 in 2009 including €432,000 in basic pay, €71,000 in pension payments and €248,000 in other perks.

A spokesperson for the ESB would not comment on whether Mr McManus — the highest paid public servant in the country — would volunteer a cut.

Pay will be capped at €250,000 at An Post where the chief executive, Donal Connell, was paid €500,000 in 2009.

Mr Howlin said all semi- state bosses should “examine their own conscience to ensure that everybody shares in this burden”.

Mr Howlin said he had not yet received any communication from semi-state bosses on the issue.

Fianna Fáil said the announcement was a continuation of its policy in December, when the late Brian Lenihan said he was seeking voluntary pay cuts from state company bosses.

“But new rates do not and will not apply to current post holders on massive salaries in excess of €250,000,” said the party’s public sector reform spokesman Seán Fleming.

He also called for more details on whether the cap will apply to AIB or to hospital consultants.

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