I earn between €40,000 and €50,000 per annum. My last pay rise came in early 2007 and was in the order of 4% on my 2006 figure. It is really good to get a pay rise (even if it just covers inflation) and to be paid well. I keep my car on the road, buy presents for family and friends and aimlessly browse electronics stores with the intention of buying things worth half their price. The ESRI and Combat Poverty Agency routinely publish reports on how there is a growing number of working people and families finding themselves at the risk of poverty. There is no risk that I will be one of these in the near future, barring major inflation. But my employer has determined that for the work I do in relation to other people in the same workplace, I deserve this annual figure. Hell, I probably deserve more but I work as long as I think is appropriate so I am not complaining. And I get free paper clips.
When the Review Body on Higher Remuneration reports that the senior civil servants and senior politicians are to receive a pay increase of between 7 and 14 per cent (others get a lot more) it rankles. And it is not because I overlooked the fact that over 200 senior health and local government managers will not receive these increases. It is not that “if these guys were in the private sector they’d be measured” because they are. It is because Susie Long died last week from bowel cancer because she believed in public health; because People in Need got 40k from Dunnes Stores for Daithi O Se’s participation in Celebrities Go Wild and People in Need has Margaret Heffernan on its board who heads a company worth almost €1 billion; because Navan’s orthopeadic unit is closing down for December as it over spent; because Sligo’s cancer services are being cut back; because some Irish children went to school hungry this morning; because those with Parkinson’s Syndrome have only 1 nurse for the entire country…and she is paid half time by a voluntary body.
Don’t give me this holier than thou ‘wouldn’t happen in the private sector’ argument either. Over 10 banks are in hock to some Dublin solicitors because they didn’t do their jobs and my phone service with Vodafone is shite. Because this is a government that consistently wastes money and then accepts a pay increase from an ‘independent’ body. Noel Dempsey on Newstalk radio this morning was sheepish. He should be because he knows it is wrong to accept an increase when he cannot even fire the senior civil servant that kept vital information about air transport in the west from him in July and August. He doesn’t deserve it but I don’t get to decide that.