Negotiations conclude at Lansdowne House

There are reports that the negotiations between the government and unions representing public sector workers have concluded.  Some details are provided here.

UPDATE: A briefing note on the LRC proposals is here.

83 replies on “Negotiations conclude at Lansdowne House”


I thought we weren’t allowed to discuss PS pay any more?

This bit made me laugh the most:

“Staff at the top of their incremental pay scale will be asked to contribute either six days annual leave, the cash value of these holidays or the cash value of one increment on their scale.”

Yirra take the 6 days annual leave lads, I promise I won’t take the time off anyway.

Strange that after four unions walk out the remainder rush to conclude a document in time for the lunchtime news on Monday. Why the haste?

RTE and the IT also seem to be spreading the usual confusion regarding the nature of pay cuts.

“RTÉ news understands that Government employees earning over €185,000 will face a pay cut of 10% under proposals for a new public service pay deal.”

How would Joe Public interpret this? The new salary for someone on 185k will be 185k – 18.5k = 166.5k right?

But what will actually happen is much less drastic – it will only be the proportion of income over 185k that is reduced by 10%. The true cut for someone on 185k will be more like 5%.

And in 3 or 4 years time all this will become a part of the mythos – and you’ll hear people on the radio saying – “we took a 10% pay cut back in 2013…”

Might I humbly suggest that this “raw deal” be known henceforth as the “Lansdowne House” agreement. The G.A.A. has suffered sufficiently from the previous one and my sympathies to the IRFU. In the interim to the next one the Citizenry might practice the Daillymount Roar!

On the basis of the IT info, it is very difficult to see 300million in these cuts.

‘A three year freeze on increments for those over €65,000’. Devastating surely!
Once again, those wielding the knife have got off very lightly themselves.

Not good for academic recruitment in Irish research universities, where salaries are already uncompetitive if we want to attract good candidates with no pre-existing connection to Ireland.

Oh no otto. It’ll be fine…they’ll come for the craic. And…and…the craic…and…


How did having attractive salaries work out for us? Did we really attract the cream of the crop? The best researchers are not judging a post on salary alone and anyone that came for that reason was probably not a great boost to the country.

In any event we could increase Professorial salaries to 200k and most good researchers would rightly still be very wary of coming here – they know that we are shagged fiscally and the plug could be pulled on University funding at any time.

In my experience as salaries have been cut in the past few years the quality of applicants has dropped noticeably. I see people being hired with fewer previous publications, or none, for example, or with stronger pre-existing connections to Ireland – the latter not being, in general, a good sign of international competitiveness on the job market. So having less attractive salaries has already worked out poorly for the future of Irish research, and the problem is likely to get worse.

Here is the actual deal.

Most important bit:

Separately, the Government will reduce the pay of those over €65k progressively as follows:

5.5% on the first €80,000 of salary and allowances

8% between €80,000 and €150,000

9% between €150,000 and €185,000

10% above €185,000

So how much will someone on 185k have their pay cut? By my reckoning it will be 5.2% on gross. Of course the effect on take home will be less because of the reduction in income liable to higher taxes. My guess is net pay for someone on 185k will go down by just less than 4%.

A prize to the first journalist to point this out.


“or with stronger pre-existing connections to Ireland”

Yeah Otto. No Irish need apply. Let’s always prefer the carpetbagger from far away.

These notes are always unclear, and can be misleading, but on a straightforward reading, the gross pay cut will be 5.5% of someone earning €80k, so its likely to be rather more than that for the €185k salary. “5.5% on the first €80,000 of salary and allowances” would not appear to mean a “5.5%” cut on the bit between €65k and €80k. But we will no doubt find out …

Hold on to your prizes Johnny, the deduction on 185k is ~13k, or >7%. You misinterpreted the doc.


Agree but that would be odd and inconsistent with previous cuts. If all pay for someone earning 65000 is to be cut by 5.5% they will suddenly earn 3575 less than their co-worker who is on 64999.

One interesting aspect of the linked deal is this one:
Strengthened performance management arrangements

The “stick” for performance management was the – at least possible – denial of increments to those whose performance was unsatisfactory. But of course now lots of university academics wont be getting increments whether performance is outstanding or poor …


I agree the wording of the document is misleading but I doubt that you are correct – otherwise it will lead to step changes that create inequities -see comment above. Unless they have some other method of introducing progressivity.

@ MH

As was discussed on the other thread, there can be no overnight transformation of thinking but there seems to me to be many likely benefits from the agreement reached when it is set in the context of “recovering national solvency” as the minister responsible put it.

The most significant is the fact that it could be reached at all i.e. compared to the difficulties faced in other countries. This is likely to have a very positive impact in the coming month which seems set to become a make or break period with developments in the EA likely to impact on the consideration by union members of CPA II.

Another significant element is the success of the Irish Presidency in closing the negotiations on the so-called Two Pack, a development which will impact on the discussion and preparation of next year’s budget, an opportunity that should be embraced in order to move towards a more “Scandinavian” budgetary process i.e. opening up the accounts of Ireland Inc. – in all its aspects e.g. including the level of legal fees being paid – to democratic scrutiny. The IT had a good leader. The significance of the development is likely to be overlooked in the domestic debate, at least for the moment.


Yeah maybe you are right. Will lead to same strange compressions and jumps in the increments but they don’t make any sense anyway so why start worrying about that now eh?

The deal seems to be that FG get their public sector expenditure reduction so long as Labour gets a lot of the money from the higher paid/ higher skilled parts of the public sector. A workable political bargain, though one with poor consequences for the knowledge economy and Ireland’s competitiveness in hiring internationally mobile skilled workers in health and research.

I wonder if the judges will have their pay cut again to match …

“I’ve made it clear this will be the last contribution people will be asked to make” – the Minister

But there have been so many commitments broken so far in this crisis and there will be so many more

From an ASTI statement

The initial intention of Government representatives set out on the 22nd of February was to apply a cut to the pay of all public servants earning in excess of €50,000 per annum.

Following the negotiations the proposal now is to cut the pay of those earning more than €65,000.

Where a public servant earns more than €65,000, there will be a 5.5% cut on all salary (but salary will not fall below €65,000).

This cut will remain in place for three years (except for those earning in excess of €100,000 – see below).

Furthermore, the pay of those earning more than €80,000 will also be cut, they will have the same 5.5% cut on the first €80,000 and a cut of 8% on the part of pay between €80,000 and €150,000.

For pay greater than €100,000, the pay reduction is permanent.

@ otto

Bravo. It’s great to see that some people still have the courage to stand up for narrow self-interested groups like academic researchers in the face of a private sector that has gone apoplectic at public sector pay and conditions.

For my part, I would love to see an increase in the RTE budget so they can introduce overseas Hollywood acting talent to the cast of Love/Hate. Think of the intangible benefits that would accrue to both the viewing public and also to our indigenous acting industry (who could use skills learned from these stars to get better-paying acting work overseas).

I’d also be highly amenable to some kind of grant for the FAI that they could use to bring Lionel Messi to Shamrock Rovers so I could go watch him play for €10 a pop.

Either you want Irish students to be educated by internationally competitive researchers, who could get an appointment in leading research universities in other countries, or you don’t. You seem to prefer the latter outcome, E v2.0, and that is indeed increasingly what has been happening, a process that will be accelerated by this new pay cut. Many people who work in the private sector might prefer the former however …

@Gavin Kostick

So far the road to recovery has consisted of a series of iterations where the deficit has not shifted as much as the austerians promised so I imagine the PS unions will be asked to take on more “once offs” as we head towards eventual equilibrium sometime in the 2020s , if at all…

On the subject of the problem that pay cuts create with regard to the capacity to find the right people, this is, of course, a function of the insistence, hitherto at least, on maintaining the illusion that the public sector constitutes a homogeneous whole when it is obvious that has a myriad different functions, many of which overlap with activities in the private sector. What we have is a system of cast iron relativities where, like the children in Lake Woebegone, all participants in a particular grade – educational and medical personnel included – are above average.

This situation, while greatly appreciated by all involved when liberal pay increases were being granted, is now untenable.

Coupled with the inability to move between grades, such a system is utterly demotivating for most staff. What is needed is, indeed, the Scandiavian approach of linking functional and organisational management with draconian budgetary allocations and democratic oversight allowing the freedom for managers to recruit and pay staff on the basis of market demand.

The problem will have to be confronted in the context of the detail – whatever it is – of what has been agreed under these headings;

“A series of long-term work place reforms have also been agreed as part of this deal. These include:

Revisions to flexitime arrangements and work sharing patterns

Revisions to redeployment provisions

Strengthened performance management arrangements.”

The only real solution is to abolish any unnecessary distinctions between public and private employment. This has always been in the interest of all concerned but unrecognised. Such a radical step will require associated major changes in relation to pension entitlements and cannot, obviously, be achieved overnight.

But the direction of movement should be clear. By way of example, the nonsense of trying to create common performance criteria for vastly different activities should be abandoned forthwith.

Will these proposals have any impact on public service pensions? Previously increases in public service pay led to increases in respective pensions. Will decreases in public service pay lead to public service pension decreases?


“Either you want Irish students to be educated by internationally competitive researchers, who could get an appointment in leading research universities in other countries, or you don’t. You seem to prefer the latter outcome,”

Nobody with any sense would disagree. But what your original post stated was that we add an additional condition in hiring at Irish universities.

“or with stronger pre-existing connections to Ireland – the latter not being, in general, a good sign of international competitiveness on the job market.”

Otto: you ought to change your name to “Uncle Tom” Bring back the carpetbaggers.

Nothing suggested re. adding an additional condition to hiring at Irish universities! Saying rather that as salaries become less competitive, the people who will apply for the jobs, or stay rather than move away, are those who are “compensated” by being in Ireland, e.g. for family reasons, and will therefore put up with uncompetitive salaries.

Of course “strong pre-existing connections to Ireland” is not in general “a good sign of international competitiveness on the job market.” Do you think they look through the pile of job applications at Yale or Sciences-Po and say, which are the ones with strong connections to Ireland?

Meritocratic research universities, including Irish ones, should be full of “foreigners” or “carpetbaggers”, ideally those who have good research credentials, and could be elsewhere but have chosen this particular place. If they are not, then, as they say, “U R doing it wrong”…


Read what you wrote. You certainly suggested that Irish universities should err in favor those without an “Irish connection” over and above qualifications.

So, the crows have come home to roost. I suppose it comes down to one’s inability (or unwillingness) to do basic math (income = expenditure). You cannot ramp up your expenditure via borrowing – you eventually may have you credit declined.

Anyone care to give a guesstimate about the proportions of employees paid by taxpayer funds v the number of employees paid out of productions and services. That is, what can the Irish taxpayer actually sustain in the way of PS wages/salaries/pensions – without having to borrow a cent! 1:10? 1:20? 1:100?

It appears that the number of persons employed in our PS (in aggregate) has expanded by way of several decades of ‘bureaucratic creep’, not by way of actual need. Perhaps there should have been a cull of rules and regulations. In any event, a lot of folk are in for a pretty hard time. And by my reckoning food and energy costs will keep increasing. And those zero-bound interest rates? So what will give? And when?

Hey Otto! Methinks you need to do some hard thinking old chap! There is no objective metrics available to assess and evaluate third-level research – the ones that are applied have about the same validity as the crapola issuing from ‘ratings agencies’. Its a self-referential society. The ‘returns on investment’ are miserable. Maybe even negative. No one knows for sure.

Lets pretend the Irish taxpayer said NIET to any third-level research funding but agreed to fund third-level teaching – which CAN be assessed and evaluated objectively. Yeah!

Think about this. Those who can, teach. Those who cannot, do research. The residuals get promoted. And the promoted hire researchers to justify those ‘promotions’. Sound familiar?


There is a vast difference between the likes of Yale following a positive hiring rule such as: “look through the pile of job applications …. which are the ones with strong connections to Ireland? ”

And the likes of TCD following a negative rule of “people being hired with fewer previous publications, or none, for example, or with stronger pre-existing connections to Ireland – the latter not being, in general, a good sign of international competitiveness on the job market.”

And what exactly is a “pre-existing connection to Ireland” anyway? Born in Ireland, Irish grandparents, Irish sounding name, visited for a weekend, degree granted? Watched an Irish movie last week? Reads the “Irish Economy Blog?”, What exactly will the rule be? Some sort of profiling? Perhaps you could do some some DNA testing! More than likely just old fashioned discrimination — No Irish need apply.

Of course, one could always consider the “Italian solution”, where, according to Bill Elliot, former editor of the Economist and co-author of the documentary about Italy “Girlfriend in a coma”, there are universities where 40% of the faculty are related!

Returning to the the core issue of how to put people into jobs where they are actually producing something (either an economic or social good), the point of departure has to be the creation of some form of level playing field in answering the very human question (from Canada to China!); who will look after me in my old age if I take this job or move to that job?

With all due respect to those dismissive of the Scandinavian experience (and hoping that they have made adequate pension provision), the Swedes have come up with the most honest and radical answer. This paper from the OECD at the time the reform was adopted (2000) will be of possible interest.

Extending the age of retirement is currently under consideration.

Er, no, read what I wrote again. And nb I was commenting on the results of hiring practices – as we pay less, the only people interested in research jobs are (already) locals – not making any recommendation not to hire Irish people. In any event, if you misunderstood it before, I hope you understand my point now.

Brian Woods: it’s relatively simple: ambitious students want to study with published researchers, leading researchers want time to do research and publish, so to attract the teaching you want for ambitious students requires giving faculty time and resources for publication.

On mature reflection… I’m a little shocked by this deal. Once you look through the details it seems like the usual loopholes for the top boys have been closed off and this is actually a very progressive agreement that protects the pay of those most in need and (finally) hammers the moochers at the top. If you are a medical consultant, a TD or a university professor the chickens have finally come home to roost.

How did that happen? This is still Ireland right?


rather difficult to attract ‘researchers’ [a very broad term] when defined ‘career paths’ are pretty much non-extant; smart people get p1ssed off with short term contracts after a while … also worth making the distinction between ‘academic’ and ‘private sector’ – figs related to the latter are low and mainly in the MNC sector ..

another anomaly is the poorly defined career paths for junior doctors to progress to consultants … we simply do not have enough consultants


Berlusconi ahead in Senate: Exit Polls Show Italy May Face Political Gridlock

After voting booths closed in Italy on Monday, initial polls showed that Pier Luigi Bersani’s center left had established a strong lead in the lower house. But Silvio Berlusconi had a narrow lead in the Senate, which could lead to political gridlock and unsettle markets.

One poll for Sky television showed Bersani at 35-37 percent in the lower house, well ahead of Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right at 29-31 percent, while comedian Beppe Grillo’s anti-establishment movement was in third place. Bersani had pledged to continue the budget consolidation policies of Mario Monti, whose centrist alliance scored just 8 to 10 percent, according to the poll.

Otto & DOCM

“Of course, one could always consider the “Italian solution”, where, according to Bill Elliot, former editor of the Economist and co-author of the documentary about Italy “Girlfriend in a coma”, there are universities where 40% of the faculty are related!”

So that sums up hiring in Irish universities. The choices are

1. Otto’s Rule: No Irish Need Apply

2. DOCM’s Rule: Perpetuate a crony hiring system.

I suspect the two of you have stumbled over what actually has gone on in Irish universities for decades. Hire either some exotic outsider or your pals.

This agreement doesn’t go far enough but….some people here want a society with no doctors and no professors. You can’t build a society on resentment and bitterness. We need to build a good society where hard work and good service are rewarded.

I am looking forward to reading the section on fees to Tribunal lawyers and other ‘professionals’.
And of course section on the State’s banking employees and the ESB etc etc. All in the small print, no doubt.

‘National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030’ 2011 report:

Modest levels of investment in higher education, combined with pay levels that are high by international standards, albeit with recent reductions, have resulted in inadequate investment in learning resources and system development infrastructure. Salaries account for three-quarters of total current expenditure on higher education in Ireland – compared with an international average of two-thirds. This means that Irish higher education operates with lower (nonpay) recurrent expenditure than is typical in other countries.

Total spending on education is comparable with similar European countries in particular when benchmarked against GNP.

@ otto

Comparable countries where workers in both the private and public sectors have equal rights (no lifetime guarantees) are Denmark, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

In these countries, if the public job of the deputy prime minister’s partner is abolished, he or she like anyone made redundant in the private sector, would have to apply for a new job – – not have one magiced up on the existing terms.

Minister Howlin said a few months ago that he did not know how many of the staff that had retired in early 2012 were given consultancy contracts in the call-a-crony scheme – – while it would be too hard to hire competent unemployed people.

A manager at Aer Rianta International, the overseas duty-free arm of State-owned Dublin Airport Authority, received a severance payment of €867,000 when he left the company in 2011. The generous exit package comprised a lump sum of €437,000 and a payment of €68,000 annually for 6.3 years to bridge the gap to retirement. He continued to work in the company!

In for example Sweden and Switzerland, previous salary is taken into account when deciding pay for a new public service recruit.

Pay is connected to individual employment rather than the post. Pay is revised annually and factors such as individual results and performance are considered.

In Finland, job content and performance are the most important determinants of base salary for all grades, with relevant experience of lesser importance. Seniority based pay is not used.

As in a well-run private company, within reason a realistic salary should be paid — irrespective of the aggrievement of others.

Too little mobility can be as bad as too much.

How would that work in Ireland where in the past, pensions were used in universities like an indiscriminate slush fund?

@ All

At the risk of stoking the sensitivities of the neanderthal tendency, the time has not yet come to hoist the auld victims’ cross.

There will be new entrants doing the same work on much worse terms — but that’s their problem until the European Court of Justice will make an adverse ruling. Yes it’s true that dual labour markets are not new but for permanent staff, if you cannot pay women doing the same work lower than what men earn, how does that chime with discrimination against originally younger staff over 40 years?

Sir Charles Trevelyan’s lifetime work guarantee continues. This was the civil servant who had been responsible during the Famine for closing of food depots in Ireland that had been selling Indian corn. His motivation was to prevent the starving Irish from becoming “habitually dependent” on the British government.

You also remain in the money, with that special pension scheme linked to earnings and a pay premium will continue:

Irish Economy: Average public/ private pay premium in 2010 was 17%; 0% in Finland & Germany

An Irish Institute of Public Administration report in 2011 said:

Comparing compensation levels at the different grades, there is a distinct difference that emerges between Ireland and the UK and the Nordic countries of Finland, Denmark and Sweden. The Nordic countries have a much flatter compensation structure (particularly Finland and Sweden), whereas the UK and Ireland have opted for higher compensation at the higher levels. On average, top managers compensation in the UK and Ireland is 7.7 times that of secretaries whereas for the Nordic countries top managers compensation is 3.5 times that of secretaries. Similarly middle managers compensation is 4.15 times that of secretaries in the UK and Ireland and 2.20 times greater in the Nordic countries.

Italy was most generous to its senior civil servants.


Bill Emmott is the name of the former Economist editor.

@ Joseph Ryan

The tribunal lawyers were paid more per day than some of the kickbacks they were investigating and when a clerical error at the Department of the Taoiseach put the daily rate at €2,500 in a letter instead of €2,250, the lawyers refused to payback the excess €1m.

To compound this parody, the wimps in government and the senior civil service went along with it.

@MH Not sure why much of this is a reply to my post! My point is simple: current salaries mean that Irish universities increasingly cannot attract qualified researchers. At the starting levels, we can no longer insist on good publications or PhD programmes prior to arrival, but have to take a lot more of a chance. That can sometimes work out of course. At senior levels, if an experienced member of staff with a long list of publications, experience in supervising and attracting good PhD students and attracting grants, leaves for better conditions elsewhere (happens all the time), we are completely unable to attract an equivalent individual to replace them, but must instead try to “replace” them with a no-publications beginner.

And that is in a more-or-less middling academic discipline in terms of salaries. I am sure the problem is much more acute in the hard sciences, or – to take the special focus of this blog – in economics.



Locate a Gini_coefficient within the Public Sector;

Does this ‘deal’ INCREASE or DECREASE such a Gini?

@ All

Leaving aside the example of university recruitment, I submit that the issue boils down to treating all workers on an equal basis. This requires the introduction of a standardised basic framework in relation to working conditions and pensions. This would inevitably involve the abandonment of any sectoral lifetime employment guarantee except in relation to core public service, judicial appointments etc.

There is as yet only the beginning of a recognition of the validity of this approach. The question then is whether it will eventually prevail. The fact that it is the approach of the most successful economies in Europe can hardly be ignored.

Nevertheless, the chances of it happening are, in my view, rather slim even if the head of SIPTU made a point on Prime Time last night of the lack of debate about the fact that half of the workforce in the private sector had no pension.

DeConstructing DOCM

“… the abandonment of any sectoral lifetime employment guarantee […] a recognition of the validity of this approach.”

This from the guy/gal who has claimed that the Capital-Labor relation does not exist! This must be the Capital_relation where only Capital is ‘valid’. This is so reactionaly roight that I fail to place it on the Genghis Khan scale – closest I can manage is to place it just to the roight of the Ferengi_scale.

Hmmm wonder is DOCM a renegade Ferengi?

@ otto: “Brian Woods: it’s relatively simple: ambitious students want to study with published researchers, leading researchers want time to do research and publish, so to attract the teaching you want for ambitious students requires giving faculty time and resources for publication.”

With all due respect to yourself (we only met yesterday) – and the other sensitive sorts on this thread (which is about the LH agreement and its aftermath) – what you are saying is a total load of b*****s. And please – I DO KNOW* what I am talking about here. Please close down your broadcasts on this minor, nitpicky issue. Please attempt to address some aspect of the real personal devastations that will ensue once the full impact of the LH agreement are apparent (like in 12-15 months time). The PS payrolls may be have been ‘cut’ but the next stage in our economic regression will be mandatory PS redundancies. And that sure as hell will not be funny!

Where are the ‘research economists’ who might be able to offer some critique of their subject and explain how an economic paradigm based on faith, hope and exponential functions WILL NOT result in widespread social and political disruptions? Where are they?

* Its nothing personal otto. I’m just pulling rank here!

If by “pulling rank”, you mean providing no evidence, you are indeed pulling rank.

It’s absolutely clear that ambitious students want to be taught by published researchers, and their families are willing to dearly pay for it in countries where higher education is privately run. Even in Ireland, people are willing to pay for expensive masters degrees in order to be taught by well-published academics. But even if a masters degree brings in a lot of money at an Irish university, it is now becoming more and more difficult to hire qualified instructors to teach on it.

otto: I am a former senior academic – with qualifications in chemistry, biochemistry, zoology, economics and politics. My area of scholarship is in Cognitive Psychology and teaching at third-level (I also possess a specific postgraduate level, third-level teaching qualification). I was both an active researcher and teacher.

Your comments are complete rubbish. I do not pull rank likely – its quite distasteful. This is my last word on the matter. Please address the title of this thread.

All you have to do to contradict me is to claim that ambitious university students do not care about whether their instructors are published researchers or not, but of course that would be nonsense…


I dont understand your argument, I have a PhD and completed this in Ireland, your inference is that I would have looked to travel abroad if the researchers here were not adequately published, perhaps you meant funded. Funding would be relative to the publication levels of competing ‘labs’ in Ireland not absolute. In any case I would not have moved abroad for that reason had I pursued a post doctoral research position then, like the vast majority, I probably would have move abroad to the real hubs of innovation, Ireland isnt big enough to be that in my opinion. My experience in academia taught me that Irish research institutions are funded without review of quality of research and Irish academics are over payed plus there are too many. A great efficiency could be gained by reducing pay and numbers of academics while increasing performance management to get the most efficient return. Academia has a public sector mentality full of rights and priveleges but few responsibilities. Even the worst got funded in the noughties


Academia has a public sector mentality full of rights and priveleges but few responsibilities.

Unlike the upper echelons of the private sector, which have privileges but few responsibilities.

After the global financial crisis those keening the relative deficiencies of the public sector need to add in some very heavy qualifications.

This is not to defend Irish academia too much, we have the old British love of hierarchy baked into many parts of Irish life and the state is small enough to get by with a much flatter structure. you go,apols behind pay wall,Sundays Times.
“THE number of full-time students from the Republic of Ireland studying at Cambridge and Oxford has more than doubled since 2001, according to the two universities.
With Ireland’s third-level institutions struggling to retain talent due to funding restrictions and increasing international competition, gifted students are more inclined to look abroad for educational opportunities.
In 2001, 213 undergraduates and graduates were registered at Oxbridge. This had increased to 448 by 2011. The total student body increase at Oxbridge only grew by one-fifth during the same period.”

@jg, otto, Brian

You are getting a bit niche there .

The premier UK universities have been under a lot of pressure tone seen to reduce their tendencies to recruit students from posh Uk private and posh state schools- mainly the former. Diversity is the aim. More Irish students probably reflects this at least in part. Much of the Russel Group & St Andrews are not terribly willing participants but they have limited choice.

Suggest you agree to differ?

@grumpy agreed and wildly off topic,was covered previously by an old rock boy.

Moving on,maybe its the rankings as Eureka,points out but Dublin/Ireland as a place for third level study appears behind Edinburg and London,among NY kids-very small sample my daughter and her friends…

9,000 to go Cambridge -link above…..try 40,000 US for high school/secondary.

“Indeed, this year’s tuition at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory ($38,340 for 12th grade) and Horace Mann ($37,275 for the upper school) is higher than Harvard’s ($36,305).”

@ grumpy: Niche. Agreed. Its divergent drift from the masthead topic.

How do you (reliably) measure human cognitive potential. You cannot. You have to use the historical record – which can be a tad iffy at best. I would suggest you observe 5 – 7 year olds. See how they cope with math, language and writing. You can spot the ‘smart ones’ almost immediately. By 17 the ‘damage’ has been done. Most are now passive containers into which reluctant tutors pour the homogenized course contents.

Undergrads only want to pass their exams. Its an absolute obsession with them. Many will adopt any means (fair or foul) to achieve high grades. They are strategically selective in their examination preparations and spend many hours question spotting. In all my years in front of the chalkboard I only encountered a hand-full of really AAA undergrads. They were exceptional. All progressed to good research careers. But were they scholars? You know, capable of slow, hard thinking for extended periods? I often wondered.

Prestige universities may appear great on paper. But the ‘quality’ of the learning experiences? Its as long as a bloody piece of string! “Never mind the quality – look at the name of the college!”

Please, can we now kill this topic? Another time, another thread. Thanks.

Once more: even gut instincts accepted



Locate a Gini_coefficient within the Public Sector;

Does this ‘deal’ INCREASE or DECREASE such a Gini?

C’mon! Any math/stat heads out there with a gestalt sense of number?

@Rich +1

Irish academics are in general, overpaid compared to their European counterparts. Of course there are also lots of PhDs being strung along on temporary contracts and need to be excluded from my statement. So we see a dual structure similar to what is happening in the PS. Ireland is simply too small to compete at a “world-class” level in all disciplines which was te snake oil being peddled by academic heads here to wrangle ridiculous levels of funding in the boom years with very little to show in return. Of course, most research is a loss maker – as it should be unlike what MH thinks. But the lack of supervision in Ireland in the boom years was something else.

If Irish Academics are generally overpaid, then why not apply the same judgement to Irish police, nurses, schooltachers, civil servants? It’s a general problem, not just a sectoral one.

Universities compete in an international labour market to a much greater extent than most of the public sector. The micro-mamagement of pay levels at the centre will always work badly in such a situation. The latest agreement mandates academic staff to work 16 extra hours a year grading exam scripts: so much for comparative advantage!

@ DOCM: Obliged for that. 28 pages!! I’ll get me a hot whiskey, truck myself in and give it a read.

Yep, the Big Question. Until these folk face up to the predicament of the payroll costs being such a large proportion of tax revenue (and having to borrow into infinity to fund the balance) we are in the clutches of the money-lenders. I just cannot see how the predicament can be addressed absent an acknowledgement that it exists. Big pregnant silences all around.

“‘Nall nan nannyways” – as the lady explained in her best Meath Street patois, we can jawbone those devilish tidbits for a few days, possibly weeks yet.

Thanks again. 10-4.

@ Brian

The answer by the Taoiseach to a question in the Dáil today contained the following.

“As part of the discussions, the Government indicated that it intends to bring forward proposals for reductions for higher levels of pension as a contribution to the overall savings sought there. Those reductions will be commensurate with the pay reductions set out in the LRC proposals.”

@John Sheehan:

I think a large number of comparative studies have already been posted on this site that show that you are correct to some degree. Taking teachers as an example, either teachers in Finland are underpaid or those in Ireland are overpaid.

It is a general problem and the difficulties in resolving it are made worse by the fact that rent-seekers – be they grocery stores or lawyers or utility companies – have been allowed to operate almost unchanged after the crisis. But back to academics, I think the overpayment is highest among senior civil servants, senior academic administrators (400k p.a. for Dean of Research at UCD or some such) and tenured professors. A full professor hired 20 years ago is paid 120-150k or more, makes almost no contributions to their pension (apart from the levy since 2009) and gets an eye-wateringly good DB pension on retirement. Irish colleges now have five different pension regimes for academic staff based on the year they joined. 1995 and before have a gilded pension. 2013 onwards have a pension that will probably turn out to be worse than a defined contribution pension in the long run.

PS: I agree that competition for academics is far more international than other public servants but most of the pay rises of the past decade have gone to those already here. And most academics are not motivated solely by money. In fact money is lower down the scale of importance for academics than for most other professions. But even in the years it was flush with cash Ireland failed to create a truly stimulative research environment. More money was spent on PR bullshit and so-called innovation centres and seminars on how to get money from the EU than any real research. It was a game and some folks did very well out of it and not the best researchers or teachers.

Garo, yes, I did read somewhere that pre 95 uni academics are treated like civil servants, with just 1.5% pension cont, rather than 6.5%? Is that correct?

Teachers have always paid 6.5%, pre and post 1995.

In countries with high proportions of young (under 25 years of age) apprentices relative to the employed population – – Austria, Germany and Switzerland – – youth unemployment is currently much lower than in other countries.

So while this is a time when State funds are generally plentiful for research, the Irish youth unemployment rate is at 30% (excluding those in education) and Ireland has the worst participation in apprenticeship schemes in Europe. It also restricts activity to traditional crafts and few females are involved. Most countries include business services such as ICT and there is significant female participation.

The Irish participation rate per 1,000 workers is 25% of the level of several European countries and half the levels in France and the UK.

“Universities compete in an international labour market to a much greater extent than most of the public sector.”

That is exactly the point, and is particularly so for 1. those starting out and 2. ten-years-in overachievers.

@ Brian Woods Snr.

It is not the most riveting read!

The curious thing is that those involved are probably totally unaware of the impression that the arcane details may create in the wider population. Few people, however, other than those directly affected, will bother to read it.

It is, nevertheless, a very significant agreement as it marks the beginning, in my opinion, of the dismantlement of the nomenklatura benefiting from the “protections” of the CPA. This is the key conclusion that the markets will draw i.e. that the country has a government – and even more importantly a public administration that functions with integrity – that is capable of taking hard decisions to the benefit of the entire country rather than sectional interests.

Whether it is agreed by the unions or not is of lesser importance. If it is not, an across the board cut, as clearly indicated by the government, will serve the purpose equally well.

That’s 35% of public expenditure suitably addressed! Now for the really hard bit; the 40% spent on social transfers of every kind in a country where one in five households – if I am not mistaken – has no breadwinner of any kind.

The next major domestic furore will be the arrival of the property tax value assessments from the Reveneu Commissioners. I heard the comment, I cannot recall who made it, that its introduction would introduce quite a few people to the tax system who had previously succeeded in staying below the radar. The MPRN (meter point registration number) will become as familiar as it became in Greece.

@ DOCM: I hope your opinion – in #2, is headed in a positive direction and the adults in the house restrain their binging teenagers. If not, we face some real social and political difficulties. Lets see how the union ‘muscle flexing’ works out. Those folk be very loss averse – and this evening’s update on the agreement is a bit on the dark side.

Its regrettable that it has come to this, that radical ‘surgery’ is needed. But contemplating the involuntary unwinding of three decades of bureaucratic drift (more personnel) and fairy-godmother increases in wages/salaries/pensions as state income (at best) has flat-lined or (at worse) is declining, is deemed unpatriotic!

Its hard to know who to ‘blame’ – is it even worth doing? However, our labour and political leaders have a great deal of explaining to do – to their respective constituencies. Are they capable of being truthful at this stage? That it is impossible (in the long-term) for this state to overspend, because if it does it will face significant reductions in standards of living, bouts of inflation, increased commodity costs and increased wage/salary/pension costs, reduced public services and increased taxations. And so on into the next cycle. Its basic math, but it seems none of the leaders are willing to go on the record about this. Bad for their career prospects I presume.

What is even worse is the silence from the economics personnel. I do not expect that all economists will have a specific interest in fiscal and monetary matters, but the issue is about the general economic expression;

Y = C + G + I + NX

What’s so hard to explain here? Well the micro texts mandate Y shall show a long-term exponential trend (eg: +3% annual, compounding increase) – with the odd speed-bump. Now this might seem innocuous to most folk, but to a scientist like myself, its insane. The econs aggravate the situation by positing the existence of a General Equilibrium (of economic activity) and insisting that this mythical entity is a fact, and that the appropriate tweak here or there will keep any economy within specified tolerance limits. Again, from both an engineering and biochemical perspective its an insane construct. There are feedbacks in any physical system (positive and negative ones) which are fiendishly hard to predict and control. If I had the time and inclination I could explain how a single cellular organism manages to remain a few short steps away from lysis and oblivion. Which is where our economy is now headed. It’s a long story! For the 30 second version, look up the growth curve for bacteria in a closed container. This is about as good and as simple a model for the global economy as you can find. It ends badly! There are just too many variable variables. Not to mention the finite resources. And the toxic pollutants!

This site should have the occasional post describing and explaining those aspects of our economy which are subject to the immutable laws of nature and the iron rules of exponential functions. Essentially explaining why economics is not a real science, but is more properly known as Political Economy. And that the so-called laws of economics are not laws at all, but merely mathematical options suitable for modelling using a spreadsheet. And are deathly if applied to populations of humans.

Would it be too much to mandate that each Irish adult shall file an annual statement of total income – like on a single page? Or else! – and mean it. I look forward to the day when I shall be required to state my MPRN on all correspondence!!! 😎

See you around.

Nobody seems to have noticed that this “agreement” is an abrogation of Croke Park I. Croke Park I promised that, in return for various changes in the workplace, there would be no compulsory redundancies and no pay cuts until after March 2014.

Reading the preamble to the LRC document, it would appear that the government’s position in entering these talks was: either you agree to help us abrogate Croke Park I through negotiation or we will abrogate Croke Park I unilaterally through legislation. In other words, these were negotiations conducted under duress in circumstances that revealed that bad faith of the government.

Given that the very birth of Croke Park II thus takes place in the context of a government abrogation of the previous agreement, it would be shocking to me if any trade union voted for it. What assurance is there that anything they think they are agreeing to will actually be honoured by the government? None. Yet, just as in the first CP deal, the pain will assuredly be inflicted.

And remember, the government has form on this: Towards 2016 was also unilaterally abrogated.

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