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'Gross mismanagement': NTA paying agency workers twice what it pays its own permanent staff

The average wage an agency worker is paid is nearly €140,000.

Image: Shutterstock/EQRoy

Updated Nov 14th 2019, 8:17 PM

THE NATIONAL TRANSPORT Authority has been accused of “gross mismanagement” of its budget after it emerged it is paying agency staff double what it is paying its own full-time staff.

At a meeting of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee this morning the authority was criticised by TDs and senators for having more agency staff working with the body than it does permanent staff.

On average, full-time staff at the NTA are paid about €73,728 a year, including PRSI and pension payments, the committee heard.

In comparison, the average wage of an outsourced worker with the NTA is nearly €140,000.

Chairperson of the committee, Fianna Fáil’s Sean Fleming said he was shocked by the figures, stating that the authority had been in existence for ten years, yet it still had more outsourced staff working for the body than it did full-time workers.

“It is totally unacceptable,” said the chairman, who explained that the figures provided to the committee in correspondence from the NTA, and seen by TheJournal.ie, shows that €8.7 million is being spent by the body on 118 full-time staff. 

However, some €20.6 million is being spent paying 148 agency staff at the NTA. 

The correspondence states: 

“Currently, there are 148 outsourced placements in the NTA, they each are employees of the service providers that have been engaged by the NTA through public procurement procedures.

“Compliance with public procurement means the NTA has to go out to the market regularly resulting in increased cost for the required skill and expertise in the current climate. The cost of an outsourced placement is approximately, on average, double the salary cost of an employee.”

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Fleming said people in the body were “doing the same job” as some of their colleagues and getting paid a lot more. 

The committee was told that the agency workers are not working on specialised projects, but are carrying out “day-to-day” activities.

He said this was bad expenditure on behalf of the taxpayer. 

“It is outrageous, this represents gross mismanagement of their financial allocation,” said Fleming.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie a spokesperson for the NTA said it “notes that issues around staffing in the organisation were raised at the Public Accounts Committee today.

“While the NTA would agree with the assertion that the organisation should be given sanction to recruit more permanent staff, the Authority rejects in no uncertain terms, the accusation of ‘gross mismanagement’ that was levelled at it today.

“This matter was addressed in detail by NTA at the PAC meeting of 10 October,” they added.

“At that meeting, it was outlined by NTA CEO Anne Graham that NTA has itself consistently requested increased numbers of permanent staff so as to reduce the number of contractors employed by the organisation.

“Until such time as approval is granted to recruit additional personnel the NTA is required to operate within its sanctioned payroll limit for permanent employees,” the spokesperson said. 

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