The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association has attacked the public sector for being cosseted, non-competitive, greedy, and insular.

The attack came after new figures from the Central Statistics Office showed that public servants earn an average of €275 per week more than workers in industry, and €100 per week more than workers in construction.

Earnings in the public sector, excluding health, now average €900 per week, the figures reveal.

As well as being substantially more than industry and construction, it is also €192 per week more than workers in distribution, €185 per week more than in business services, and €40 per week more than in banking, insurance, and building societies.

These comparisons take no account of pension entitlements, which are also generally considered to be superior in the public sector than elsewhere.

The ISME Chief Executive, Mark Fielding, said Ireland has a surreal situation where public sector workers who already earn more than their counterparts in the private sector are now lining up to claim a shorter working week and be paid more for less.

Mr Fielding said that public servants currently get two bites at the pay cherry because they get pay increases through social partnership agreements and then again through the benchmarking process.

He said it is taxpayers who must foot the bill for the public sector's incessant wage increases.