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Private employers should stop criticising and try to match public service standards

I AM a 76-year-old bloated public service pensioner. I wish to thank the media for drawing attention to my seriously obese condition.

When I began my career I decided to seek the security of a permanent, pensionable post in Ireland.

To this end, in the interests of gaining suitable experience for my chosen career, salary became secondary to experience.

Unfortunately, some of those who chose the money trail are now regretting their decision.

I became a permanent, pensionable public servant at the age of 33 (somewhat younger than average at that time).

Then followed 13 years in numerous jobs offering appropriate experience – these involved moving domicile on six occasions with resulting expense.

I was recommended for appointment by the Local Appointments Commission, an independent statutory body established to take the making of appointments away from areas of local influence.

When I was selected, I had been number 53 of the interviewees (on another occasion I was number 157).

Apart from engineering, the interviews also involved knowledge of Irish (spoken and written) and, subsequently, a stringent medical examination and the provision of references.

The old school tie was never a factor. This ensures that appointees can freely express their opinions in the public interest without looking over their shoulder for their bosses’ approval.

Yes, the public sector provides secure and well pensioned employment. But the opportunity for joining is open to all those qualified and a public servant can be dismissed, albeit for the most serious reasons.

On the other hand hundreds (if not thousands) of temporary public service employees currently have lost, and will continue to lose, their jobs as a result of government policy.

Historically, differentials between the private and public sector have fluctuated.

At present, it is being claimed that private pay levels are less, although the evidence is open to serious question.

Certainly in the engineering profession, salaries are by no means excessive having regard to education, training, experience, responsibility and commitment. No doubt other professions and disciplines could equally justify their posts. I am sure unions recognise that the present campaign to pillory the public service is an attempt to diminish its conditions of employment. Instead of pursuing this aim, private employers should be seeking to bring their working practices up to those in the public service.

Public sector employees have already seen a major cut in income. I believe there is an acceptance that additional funds are required, with equal treatment of the public and private sectors.

It is worth remembering that our present ills are in large measure due to the financial sectors of private concerns.

Michael Cogan BE, C.Eng, FIEI, (Chartered Civil Engineer)

Island Heights

Glanmire

Co Cork


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