Performance pay please

Excessive salaries in the public sector in a time of austerity, are they justifiable, what is the worth of a man?

Starting at the top with our president, a supporter of socialist policies who surely at some time in his life read Karl Marx, a man who toiled with the age-old problem of the value of a man’s labour — our president earns around €680 a day. So what value can you put on the labours of a human being, be they physical or intellectual? Is the labour of any one person worth, say, several hundred euro per hour while another is forced to survive on less than the minimum wage.

Could the answer be if you work in, and for, the private sector then your labour is worth all you can get for it, which will be dictated by what an employer is willing to pay for it ie free market economy with all its uncertainties, its market-driven forces and performance-related rewards, and where contracts are terminated when goals or targets are not met. So, why in this time of austerity do we not adopt these tried, trusted and successful principles to the CEOs of our public sector?

Private sector salaries cannot be justifiably applied to the public sector unless a pay-related, contract fulfilment clause is incorporated in the terms and conditions of employment.

There is much disquiet today about the large salaries being paid to the principal officers of state and semi-state bodies. In the 1980s Lee Iacocco turned the fortunes of Chrysler with such a contract, ie a relatively small basic salary, supplemented by a large bonus linked to his success, and not failure, only to see that company fail once more, once a conventional management structure replaced his initiative.

The Peter Principle tells us that within management structures, executives rise to the level of their incompetence. Within the private sector when this occurs, they are quickly replaced, so why not, in the public sector, is this not the least that we taxpayers (their employers) are entitled to?

Liam Cunningham


Co Cork

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