Belfast Telegraph

Quids in: Northern Ireland civil servants' paid £105 a week more than private sector workers

By Liam Clarke

New statistics reveal that civil servants in Northern Ireland are being paid on average over £105.60 more per week than private sector workers.

They show that in April last year the average weekly earnings for private sector workers were £348.30, compared to £453.90 for civil servants, and £458.70 for all public sector workers.

The report on pay, issued yesterday by the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP), concedes that average Civil Service salaries “were similar to those in the overall Northern Ireland public sector — which were considerably higher than the mean earnings in the Northern Ireland private sector”.

Within the Civil Service, women are still paid around 6.4% less than men, despite a number of equal pay claims which pushed up their wages in recent years.

The DFP argues that the difference is narrowing and that it is largely accounted for by the fact that there are more men in the higher grades.

Outside the Civil Service, the public sector includes relatively highly paid workers such as doctors, teachers and police officers.

A police constable has a starting salary of £499-a-week rising to £702 after 10 years’ service — even without promotion.

In comparison, the average salary for white-collar private-sector jobs here is quite low.

According to salary-compare website Payscale, the average weekly wage for a Belfast-based software developer is £477, and for a charted accountant is £471.

This clear public-private pay differential will anger business leaders who have long argued that they are unable to compete with higher public-sector wages.

However, Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said there is currently a freeze on most Civil Service recruitment, meaning there is little or no competition between the two sectors for new staff.

Factfile

The average full-time basic salary of Northern Ireland Civil Service staff is £21,924.

Most staff had a pay rise of 2-3.9% in 2011-2012, mainly due to staff progressing up their pay scales.

On average, staff at executive officer level or above earn less than their counterparts elsewhere in the UK.

Women are paid on average 6.3% less than men.

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