Dramatic wage gaps across regions, sectors, ministries

Dramatic gaps exist between equivalent positions among different government ministries, reported LTV news program Panorāma Thursday.

An imbalanced situation prevails inside state government administration, where certain ministries might pay a higher-ranking civil servant anywhere from €1352 to €5285 a month. Certain government officials can receive two to three times greater salaries than their counterparts in the so-called ‘poor’ ministries.

The State Chancellery claims it cannot influence these discrepancies, because without fundamental amendments to the regulations no changes can be made in the way such pay levels are determined.

As the law requires all ministries to publish what their officials make in monthly wages, comparisons show some paying out four-digit sums to almost all workers, while some pay above the €1000 mark to just one or two department heads.

The Finance Ministry has the most opaque and convoluted system for making public its official wage levels and who receives them. Department directors at the ministry during the month of February made between €3371 and €5285.

While the Agriculture Ministry posts wage levels almost as high as the Finance Ministry, the ‘poorest’ ones are definitely the Interior and Health Ministries, where the salaries per month are between €1352 and €1866, a significant difference.

Health Minister Guntis Belēvičs (Greens/Farmers) remarked that “this isn’t fair, but I can only be happy for those who work for a decent wage elsewhere and feel bad that salaries at the Health Ministry are so low.”

Comparatively good wages are earned at the Environment and Regional Development, Finance and Agriculture Ministries. The Agriculture Ministry’s track record for retaining workers proves that a stable salary is like a good magnet. Wages, premiums and bonuses keep them there, with both job vacancies and turnover being quite low. But at other ministries, low salaries have caused a dramatic lack of workers and frequent turnover in key positions.

There are currently altogether seven thousand job vacancies in the state administrative system, including all police, social workers and other official employees of the government. For instance, some Health Ministry finance experts have moved to jobs at the Finance Ministry, which pays more for the same work. Even more can be earned in the private sector, too.

“Project leaders – yes, the keepers of finances are in such high demand, they’re heading for the private sector, these key people are being headhunted away,” State Chancellery deputy head Eva Upīte said, pointing out that the difference between the salaries can be five or six times greater.

So high-level civil servant managers can be easily lured away from a €2000 per month job at the ministry to a €10,000 offer from the private sector. But the real worry is about the lower levels of wages in the state system, which has caused side effects of corruption and incompetence. Recent scandals involving poorly managed tender processes have underscored this problem in the Education and Economics Ministries.

Until July 1, the highest bonuses will be paid out to those ministry employees who are involved in the work of the Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Meanwhile differences in the wages earned at various job positions throughout Latvia are also dramatically out of balance, both across separate business sectors and regions of the country, says a research report released Thursday by personnel recruitment firm CV-Online Latvia in the April issue of Kapitāls business news magazine.

Experts predict continued cautious optimism among Latvia’s entrepreneurial community in 2015, both with regard to possibilities for job creation and wage hikes for salaried employees.

But the research shows that the highest average monthly net salaries are in the information technology (IT), finance and pharmaceutical sectors, whereas the lowest wages are in the education, health care and public food service sectors, where the differences in net wages are as high as 55%.

Executives and upper management receive the highest average monthly salary range between €3800 and €5100, experienced senior programmers occupy the next tier between €2000 and €2500, architects earning on average between €2000 and €2300, mid-level managers from €1700 to €2600, construction engineers from around €1000 to €1600, court judges between €1200 and €1700.

Meanwhile the lowest average wages go to groundskeepers (€280), seamstresses (€350), post office workers (€355), housekeepers (€375), sales people and cashiers (€380), orderlies, nurses and nannies (€405), teachers, librarians and school counselors (€420), security guards (€440), waiters and bartenders (€460).

Great differences exist between regions, too. The average net job wage in Daugavpils is 46% less than in Riga. The lowest average wages are in Latgale province, the highest in Riga and its surrounding suburbs. Comparing the results of the research to the Central Statistics Office’s data, this means that under-the-table “envelope payments” of wages can comprise up to 30% of total salaries here.

“Results show that average wages have risen by 7% over the past year, but some positions have seen increases of 20% or more,” said CV-Online Latvia head Aivis Brodiņš.

Favorite non-monetary perks on the job included: free drinks, a health insurance policy, informal corporate events, paid cell phone and internet usage, flexible work schedules and sick leave. However, every sixth respondent indicated that they receive no benefits besides their basic monthly salary.

 

 

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