Revealed: Wage hike reveals new salaries of top civil servants who beat inflation

When the cuts imposed during the financial crisis are reversed next week, the salaries of the highest-paid civil servants will increase by more than €20,000.

That reversal of the cuts imposed during the recession would actually cause the wages of public servants to jump higher than the rate of inflation.

According to data published by the Central Statistics Office, the annual rate of inflation rose to 7.8 percent in May – the highest rate in nearly 40 years.

The salary of senior hospital consultants will now increase by 10pc, or €22,972 to €252,150 per year, while the chief justice’s salary will increase by 8.9pc from €271,648 to €295,916, an increase of €24,268.

Official figures show that general secretaries of government departments will also receive a salary increase of 8.9 pc, bringing their salaries in the range of €211,765 to €250,000.

The top grade of the Secretary-General’s salary will increase from €215,998 to €250,000 over €34,000.

However, it is not clear whether there is a general secretary at this level.

Heads of universities, currently at €215,998, will receive a 9pc pay increase, bringing their salary to €235,594.

The head of a technical university will receive a salary increase from €204,630 to €222,911.

Health Department Secretary General Robert Watt and HSE Director General Paul Reid would not be eligible for the pay hike because their wages were set after an emergency law that cut wages.

Under the Public Service Wage and Pensions Act, ‘reinstatement’ does not apply to Taoiseach, Tánaiste, ministers or the Attorney General.

The government found that it was not legally possible to stop the increase due on 1 July for those earning more than €150,000, whose wages were first reduced a decade ago.

A source in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said that ahead of the restoration date, Minister Michael McGrath sought legal advice to establish whether the government had any discretion regarding reinstatement payments.

They were told that it was not permissible to amend or delay the terms of reinstatement within the existing law or through further legislation.

Government employees’ deductions on annual wages up to €150,000 have already been fully reinstated.

Statistics show that medical consultants on top of their pay scales on ‘Type A’ contracts prior to 2012 will see their pay increase to €252,150, a 10 percent increase over current levels.
In contrast, consultants recruited on ‘Type C’ contracts after 2012 who can engage in on-site and offsite private practice will receive a maximum increase of 1.7 percent, of €155,594 per year.

The €2,534 increase due to these mentors is far less than what their long-serving colleagues would get.

Salary increases for consultants before 2012 range from 6.3pc to 10pc at the top of their pay scale and after the July increase their salary will range from €183,859 per year to €252,150.

For those hired after 2012, reinstated pay rates range from €155,954 to €221,765, with an increase of 1.7pc to 10pc.

A government source said any “cost of living” wage hikes that would benefit from the wage restoration this year would not be in line with what may be agreed in talks over a review of the current public sector wage deal.

These talks broke down last week.

The government had introduced a proposal which means that government employees will get 7 percent in two years.
This includes an additional 5pc and two 1pc increments already agreed upon under the agreement, Building Momentum.

The finance department’s forecast for inflation is 6.25 pc this year and 3 pc next year, so a proposal providing 7 pc over the same period is a “credible position”, the source said.

Government sources said they were clear from the start of the talks that they would not chase inflation, and it was important to avoid measures that would add to inflationary pressures.

He added that the global economic environment, including rising interest rates, high levels of public debt, inflationary pressures, is facing increasing levels of uncertainty and a balanced and prudent approach is appropriate “as recognized by the proposed resolution”.

The Labor Party said the “bitter pill” of the public sector reinstatement for the highest paid means talks must now resume.

Labor employment spokeswoman Mary Sherlock said: “The public sector unions have rightly said that they will not return to negotiations until the government makes a meaningful proposal.”

“The government must now realize that if it fails to adequately address the hardship of the actual wage cut, it is accumulating the heat of serious discontent, which is bound to affect the public sector workers and the public sector. Many workers with benchmark wage rates are now experiencing.”