New evidence has emerged that wages in the private sector are falling behind those in the civil service.

Economist Colm Rapple told the annual conference of the Irish Bank Officials' Association today that they were now earning around 10% less than their civil service equivalents.

He said they would need a 15% pay rise to restore them to their relative position of 10 years ago.

Mr Rapple conducted a comparative study of the pay rates of various grades of bank officials and civil servants over the past 20 years.

He said that this trend was not limited to bank officials, as other studies had found a significant gap between public and private sector workers across the economy.

Mr Rapple said this gap had been increased by the benchmarking awards, which gave an average increase of 9% to civil and public servants.

IBOA General Secretary Larry Broderick warned that the next national wage agreement would have to address the needs of private sector workers in profitable industries.

He said that wage agreements needed a better balanced approach which recognised that while some employers might have financial difficulties, other more profitable sectors could afford to share their benefits with staff and customers.