Benchmarking and the crash

 

Sir, – Your editorial (April 26th) claims that benchmarking increases “were a critical factor in bringing the economy to its knees during the financial crisis”.

It is clear from all objective studies that it was the unregulated private sector, mainly banks and developers, that wrecked the Irish economy. The remedy put in place penalised the public sector with savage cuts, backed by media-led propaganda, while rescuing the banks’ bond holders in the bailout, and the developers through Nama. This was grossly unfair but was accepted due to the tyranny of consensus that prevailed at the time. The banks and the developers are back in full swing while the public sector continues to be pilloried in the press. – Yours, etc,

TOM NELSON,

Maynooth,

Co Kildare.

Sir, – I wish to refer to your editorial suggesting that the public sector pay benchmarking exercise of the early years of the 21st century “was a critical factor in bringing the economy to its knees during the financial crisis”.

The significant media coverage given by The Irish Times to the brain drain in the Civil Service during the late 1980s and 1990s seems to have been forgotten. People were leaving their safe public sector jobs in droves for more lucrative pay in the private sector. The pay increases seen in the early 21st century were implemented, at least in part, to encourage “the brightest” to come back into the public sector.

With reference to the apparently attractive pensions available in the public sector, it should be remembered that many public sector employees are women on the lower rungs of the ladder, whose salaries are moderate and whose pensions will therefore be minimal.

Many women take some years out of the workforce to care for children so their pensions will be further reduced.

Yes, women who have worked in the home after 1994 will be allowed to disregard such years when their PRSI contributions are being calculated, but for those of us who worked at home in the 1980s and early 1990s, no such provision has been allowed.

A further pension issue will arise for those of us unlucky enough to have been born in 1955 or after and who entered the public sector prior to 2005. We will not qualify for our state pension until we are 67, even though we must retire at 65 based on our employment contract. We have made our PRSI contributions all our working life, and now the rules have been changed without any thought as to how the gap between ages 65 and 67 will be filled. – Yours, etc,

ANNA KIRBY,

Mallow,

Co Cork.