Public pay increments defended

I WISH to express concern at the recent criticism of public servants who receive annual increments of their salaries.

The reality of the situation is that public servants are now paying up to 16.5% of their salary for pension purposes, not to mention the increased income levy of 2% and the 2% health levy from May 1.

Recent media reports seem to confuse annual increments with long service increments which are paid to some public servants after many years in the job.

It is important to point out that increments are not automatic and not a permanent feature of pay.

The facts are that out of a total of 310,000 public servants, some 55,000 earn less than €30,000 a year, 74,000 are paid between €30,000 and €40,000 and 255,000 earn less than €60,000 .

Is a civil servant on a clerical officer scale of €23,174 per annum, rising by annual increments to €35,660 after 18 years, on a massive salary?

The underlying principle behind increments has been accepted in a number of European Court of Justice cases and a refusal to pay them would be a breach of contract and would have a devastating effect on the lower paid categories who would not have reached the maximum of the scale.

The pension levy is in fact a pay cut which is crude and unfair as it has no regard for ability to pay and some on lower incomes pay proportionately more than those on higher rates.

Public servants are not from some elitist class and have to pay mortgages, childcare and health expenses like those in the private sector.

Public sector-bashing must stop. It is important to point out that the bankers, property developers and an incompetent government created this economic mess – not ordinary workers in the public service.

It is now inevitable that the lower paid civil and public servants will become the new poor of Irish society.

Teddy Foley

St John’s Park

Tralee

Co Kerry

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