Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Hidden Ireland and the Vested Interests with the Grip on the Public Megaphone

Tánaiste and Minister for Finance Brian Cowen TD - - After the last sham benchmarking, it is "likely" that the Benchmarking Body will take account of the public service pensions that would require the equivalent of 28% of salary for 40 years in the private sector! More...

This morning on RTE Radio 1's flagship news programme Morning Ireland, a representative of the Aer Lingus pilots/shareholders, outlined their case for the application of a model in relation to international bases, which the airline may establish, that is the antithesis of the model that has been the central pillar of Irish economic development for the last half-century i.e. principally American companies could set up operations in Ireland and operate in accordance with local market conditions.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern on Tuesday had given the pilots' union a hope of a fudge on conditions for pilots at the new base in Belfast, by saying that both sides should resume talks. It's a tack that has worked fine for a while during times of plenty, with the likes of sham benchmarking, but sometimes a clear line must be drawn.

Some time later on Morning Ireland, a representative of the Irish Medical Association outlined why doctors are threatening a strike at Dublin's Beaumont Hospital because of the reduction in overtime. Not too long ago, the whinge was that junior doctors were expected to work too long. Surprise! surprise!

In both cases - excess and inadequate overtime, the ostensible concern is safety of patients.

Another morning it could be medical consultants carping about salaries of over €200,000 being "mickey-mouse" money or teacher unions whinging about some grievance, all on behalf of the patients again or the school children.

In the hidden Ireland, there are hundreds of thousands with no job security and on terms and benefits that pale in comparison with those of the vested interests that have a firm grip on the public megaphone.

IBEC, which represents large Irish employers, said on Tuesday that in the period 1999 to 2006, compensation per private sector employee in Ireland rose by 42%, compared to 15% in the euro area, and just 7.5% in Germany.

Politicians pay increased about 90% in the period and the rest of the public service in the period 2001-2006 saw their pay increase by 38% (additional staff are excluded in arriving at figure) compared with a rise of 19% in the average industrial wage which is €32,000 - not too much more than Trevor Sargent TD, who lives in Balbriggan, North Dublin, claimed in travel expenses last year.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Finance, Brian Cowen said last week that the Benchmarking Body in making comparisons is likely to give greater weight to the value of the public service pension package "in view of developments in relation to pensions across the economy in recent years."


A private sector worker can provide for the equivalent of a public service pension for a maximum of two-thirds of final salary for retirement. However, 28% of salary would have to be put aside every year for 40 years to do so.

In the private sector, there are 900,000 workers without any occupational coverage.

Having a grip of the public megaphone pays dividends big time and the politicians are good at feathering their own nests.

One can well ask, where is the outrage from the hidden Ireland?

Anyone for Benchmarking.....but perish the thought that there would be public sector reform.