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Over half of public-sector workers oppose rolling industrial action

A major new survey reveals the majority of public-sector workers are opposed to the current rolling industrial action in the public sector. Some 59 per cent of those who expressed an opinion said they were opposed to the ongoing action, while only 41 per cent support the measures.

Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people, surveyed 4,340 individuals nationwide in April 2010 to investigate employment and workplace issues around pay and benefits in the public and private sectors. It also sought to establish workers’ views on whether they felt they would be better off in the other sector.

“The survey provides valuable insight into the thinking of the public-sector workers while we wait to see if they will approve the proposed Croke Park deal” said Richard Eardley, Managing Director of Hays Ireland. “Whilst private and public-sector workers have undoubtedly both suffered the economic consequences of the recession, it would be difficult to support the much aired argument that the public sector has been singled out or targeted to bear the brunt of the burden” he added.

Four out of five (79 per cent) workers in the public sector and 57 per cent of private-sector respondents have taken a cut in basic pay in the past two years while the numbers who experienced a reduction in benefits is 64 per cent and 61 per cent respectively.

On top of this, almost half (47 per cent) of the public-sector respondents foresee redundancies in the next two years, despite the fact that the survey was released after the Croke Park proposals were proposed in March. In addition, 65 per cent of private-sector workers expect more lay-offs in their companies in the next two years.

The survey also revealed that four out of five (81 per cent) private-sector workers feel they would be more secure in the public sector whilst only 14 per cent of public-sector workers said they would feel more secure in the private sector.

There has been much debate about the move from defined benefit pensions to defined contribution schemes. Four out of five (85 per cent) workers in the private sector, and three out of four (75 per cent) public-sector employees believe their pension would be, or is, better in the public sector. Only half of the survey’s public-sector respondents receive defined benefit pension schemes.

Despite the widely publicised imposition of pay cuts, it seems the majority of workers in Ireland would still prefer to work in the public sector compared to the private sector. The survey found that almost three quarters (71 per cent) of the private sector would switch to the public sector to do a similar job for the pay, benefits and conditions that are offered in the public sector. While less than half (44 per cent) of the public-sector respondents said they would move to the private sector.

“Our survey shows that both sides have felt the pain, yet the consensus is people would rather work in the public sector. Job security, in the face of economic uncertainty, appears to be paramount for the majority of people. Restoring job confidence across both sectors is vital if we are to secure future growth” said Mr Eardley.

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For a full copy of the report, or to set up an interview contact Richard Eardley on 086 820 7544.


Notes to editor:

Hays Ireland is part of Hays plc (the "Group"), the leading global specialist recruiting group. It is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Australia and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe. It operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments.


The Group employs over 6,700 staff operating from 345 offices in 28 countries across 17 specialisms.


For the year ended 30 June 2009:

  •  the Group had revenues of £2.4 billion, net fees of £670.8 million and operating profit of £158.0 million;

  • the Group placed around 50,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 300,000 people into temporary assignments;

  • the temporary placement business represented 56% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 44% of net fees;

  • Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE and United Kingdom.