Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants


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Press Release 4 December 2015

(04 Dec 2015)

Time to break link between public sector pay and politicians

  • Independent Wage Evaluation Mechanism must be introduced, say AHCPS  
  • Civil Servants experiencing ‘great vulnerability’, according to new Taoiseach commissioned report
  • Aging civil service being ‘decimated’ due to restraints

Press Release: 4, December 2015: The Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants (AHCPS) is calling for the link between public sector pay and politicians to be broken, stating that the connection is causing the ‘decimation’ of the civil service.

A new report commissioned by the Taoiseach about the Civil Service published this week, states that civil servants are experiencing great vulnerability and anxiety due to ‘debt, reduced health benefits, and lack of financial certainty with no foreseeable or promotional prospects’.

The AHCPS, which represents over 3,000 senior civil servants and managers in the commercial and non-commercial State sector, is calling on Government to introduce an Independent Pay Mechanism which would - for the first time - remove the power of public sector pay determining from politicians. This would ensure that public sector remuneration is in line with salary levels for a similar position in the private sector – which the Association claims is currently not the case.

“An Independent Wage Evaluation Mechanism would go a long way towards helping us as a society to move on from the public sector and civil service bashing that too often dominates discussions about public sector pay. In a normal, functioning democracy, and in the interests of transparency, politicians should have no role in determining pay,” according to AHCPS General Secretary, Ciaran Rohan.

“Public sector pay is currently out of kilter with similar roles in the private sector, and increasingly so given the ongoing improvement in the economy. It’s not just us saying this, recent research by the ESRI verifies it.  Our own research shows that Assistant Principal Officers pay levels are 20% behind its private sector equivalent, and for Principal Officers that rises to 30%.”

“The growing disparity between public and private sector pay is slowly decimating our civil service. A Principal Officer competition that was advertised earlier this year saw a disappointing lack of applicants coming from the private sector. The aging profile of the civil service, and current recruitment and retention challenges, is a matter of great concern.”

Members of the AHCPS bore pay reductions during the recession of up to 22%.  When the two phases of restoration are complete in 2018, its members pay will still on average be 14 % below 2008 rates. At the same time staffing levels have been reduced by 10%. Consequently, the public sector is both failing to attract new talent for important senior civil servant positions as well as losing people to more financially rewarding positions in the private sector. Neither of which is in the country’s best interests.”

The problem for our members is their pay levels are directly and intrinsically linked to the salary level of politicians, and what’s more, are determined by the same politicians. Given the public appetite, or lack thereof, for political representatives receiving any type of pay increase, our members continue to be disproportionally disadvantaged in pay agreements and pay restoration measures. It is time to break that link,” he said.   

Ciaran Rohan is General Secretary of the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants (AHCPS).

About Ciaran Rohan

Ciaran joined the Civil Service in 1987 and has worked in the Department of Education and Science and the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General. He held a number of roles within the PSEU was a member of the AHCPS Executive Committee from 2002. He served as both Vice Chairperson and Chairperson of the Association. Ciaran joined the Association as Assistant General Secretary in May 2008 and in June 2014 was appointed to the post of General Secretary.

About the AHCPS

The Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants (AHCPS) is a registered trade union affiliated to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. The Association represents over 3,000 senior civil servants and managers in the commercial and non-commercial State sector.


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Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants