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An old tune… May 16, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

This from Jim O’Leary in the IT on public sector pay on foot of the Public Service Pay Commission report is an echo of discussions that were in vogue eight or so years back. O’Leary makes no secret of the fact that he doesn’t want any wage increases for the public sector. His concluding line is:

It might not be feasible to freeze public sector pay at current levels but, if I were Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe, I would be aiming for an outcome to the pay talks as close to that as possible.

But another part of the rather stat light (which is to say entirely lacking in any figures whatsoever) piece is the following:

[AN] aspect of equity as between the two sectors relates to pensions. Public service workers in general enjoy much more generous pension arrangements than private sector employees. Following the reforms introduced in 2013, it may no longer be the case that all public servants are blessed with Rolls Royce pensions, but most of them still are. Those that aren’t, enjoy what might be described as the equivalent of BMWs or Mercedes.
The best that private sector employees can hope for are in the latter class, but most private sector workers who have any occupational pensions at all are in modest vehicles like Golfs and Micras.
Then there is the very large fraction of private sector workers who either look after their own pension arrangements or have no occupational pension provision whatever. Many of these folk are in the horse-and-cart class.
In making comparisons between the two sectors, should the latter groups of private sector workers be included or not? The PSPC has judged that they should not be. As a result, the value it attaches to public service pensions relative to the private sector is greatly understated.

Putting aside the point that we are not offered any comparisons at all in relation to what the PS pensions are – therefore making it impossible to parse out his vehicular line, there’s also the problem that that ‘logic’ of pitching those with pensions in the PS against those without them in the private sector is similar to the line of pitching those with jobs in the PS with those without them as was the argument not so long ago. It is cosmetically robust but falls apart on any serious analysis. And of course it is as equally expedient.

But it’s an absurd argument – that ignores the fact that pensions were part and parcel of public employment since the establishment of the state, and in no sense contentious, and because one could by the same token argue that those in the private sector with jobs should be compared with those without jobs. Why not? And it completely ignores the glaring evidence that pension provision by private employers is pitiful in the main. What of their responsibilities?

The worst aspect is that O’Leary offers no actual alternative to the status quo that might address his inequities. He’s certainly not going to go down the route of doing away with public and private pensions and ensuring all citizens have a proper pension funded out of taxation. Nor is he even going to start to address the inequities within the private sector where, and this is from my own direct experience and that of many many workers, those in higher management and ownership ensured they had pensions while the state was left to provide what it could for the rest of us. That sort of basic inequity isn’t on his radar whatsoever.


1. EWI - May 16, 2017

The only ‘mystery’ here is why anyone thinks that Jim O’Leary has any credibility. The concern-trolling of comfortable middle class types on this issue is nauseating.


2. Tomboktu - May 16, 2017

I wonder if the Irish Times will seek out Tom Healy of the Nevin Economic Research Institute and ask him to brush down this recent piece for the paper:



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