CSO: Some public service workers 'earned up to 18.9% more' than private sector

Some public sector workers have earned up to a sixth more than people employed with private firms, it emerged today.

Official figures showed the pay gap varied from 6.1% to 18.9% in 2010 after qualifications, service and age are considered.

The largest gap was among those on the lowest incomes but it decreased as workers in both sectors earned more, according to the National Employment Survey 2009 and 2010 from the CSO.

“Overall, the summary results show that, on average, public sector employees had higher educational attainment, longer service, were older, and were more likely to be in professional jobs than their counterparts in the private sector,” the CSO said.

The study also revealed the gender pay gap was less in the public sector, with men earning an average 12% an hour more than woman hourly women, compared to a 21% gap in the private sector.

But statisticians warned the analysis does not compare similar jobs between the public and private sectors.

For example, gardaí and soldiers are found exclusively within the public sector, while jobs in accommodation, food services or construction are only in the private sector, it added.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions later said that the data confirmed the need to avoid simplistic analysis and highlighted the problem in making comparisons between sectors.

General secretary David Begg said: “The new earnings data from the Central Statistics Office illustrated the difficulties in making straight like-for-like comparisons, especially as these often feed into stereotypes and caricatures that are of no help whatsoever to working people.

“The key issue was not possible pay differentials, but the collapse of demand in the economy, the lack of job creation measures and the failure of austerity to deliver a solution to the crisis.”

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