Culture of bonuses in semi-states - Bonus deal is a shabby dodge

IT is unfortunate that the bonus culture has become so very embedded in our semi-state companies. EirGrid, the state-owned electricity network, is the latest organisation to find itself the subject of unwelcome attention on the issue, just as Irish Water was so very soon after it was established.

EirGrid’s CEO Fintan Slye yesterday dismissed suggestions that staff receive bonuses of up to 15% and that the average salary is €97,000. He said the accurate figures are in the region of 10% and €67,000. It is expected the company will pay out something close to €7m in bonuses this year.

Speaking on RTÉ, Mr Slye said that “a significant proportion have not got their bonus when they have not met their targets”. However, he did not explain how staff who did not meet targets managed to remain employees of the company. Surely holding on to your job while not meeting your agreed targets is the greatest bonus of all?

It is hard not to think that the bonus culture became so popular in semi-state companies because the process facilitated pay deals far more generous than anything that could have been sanctioned by the disastrous social partnership. It also shows that benchmarking, that great swizz, is a one-way process because, for the vast majority of workers in the private sector, the prospect of a 10% bonus is pretty remote. No one begrudges anyone a decent income but this seems another example of snouts in the public trough.


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