Benchmarking and the public sector


Sir, – Martin Wall reports in Saturday’s paper that the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants is of the view that its members are paid up to 60 per cent less than their management counterparts in the private sector. If my arithmetic isn’t letting me down, this means that managers in the private sector are paid up to 150 per cent more for work which, in the opinion of the association, is comparable to that of its members.

This seems odd. In a relatively small market it would be surprising if any seller of goods or services continued to sell into a market when they can go next door and sell for a significantly higher price.

Assuming that those who persist in selling at the lower price are behaving rationally, a few possible explanations occur to me. One is that the work is not, in fact, comparable. Another is that there are factors other than pay which affect the behaviour of the apparently underpaid they may put some value on security of employment, their pension arrangements may be better or more certain of payment, their roles may offer greater job satisfaction, they may be patriots.

I had thought we might be a little further into the recovery – at least at the stage where as a country we are not borrowing to pay our bills before we heard calls for the benchmarking of public sector pay and conditions to those in the private sector. That debased term seemed to fall out of favour with public sector trade unions as 300,000 workers in the private sector lost their jobs. – Yours, etc,


Rathmines, Dublin 6.