‘Disappointing’ States pay offer may lead to strikes
UNIONS representing civil servants have said that a new States pay offer to around 3,500 public sector employees is ‘not worth the paper it is written on’, and that their members will now be considering strike action.
The offer follows chief executive Charlie Parker’s announcement in March that the States would negotiate two-year pay deals for the majority of its 6,800 employees. This includes teachers, nurses, uniformed services and 3,500 civil servants.
The offer, which will be backdated to January, gives the most to manual workers (7.9%) and doctors (7%), followed by nurses and midwives (6.6%) and teachers and uniformed services (both 6.1%), with civil servants (4.1%) coming at the bottom of the pack.
Some of the offers to certain pay groups include non-consolidated payments – one-off payments which do not add to the overall salary or pension.
More than half of the civil servants’ deal is made up of non-consolidated payments.
Mr Parker emphasised that there was a limited budget to stick to and that this offer was aimed particularly at the lowest-paid employee groups.
‘Our priority is to target the biggest pay rises at nurses, midwives, low-paid manual workers and colleagues in uniformed services,’ he said, ‘and that is where we have focused our offer. We also understand the impacts on many colleagues of the rising cost of living, and by offering a combination of consolidated and non-consolidated pay, we can offer more in cash terms over the next two years, to help with those living costs, than if we only offered a consolidated pay increase.’
But, speaking on behalf of Prospect and the Jersey Civil Service Association, JCSA chairman Terry Renouf dismissed this as a ‘very damaging approach’, both to the current workforce and to the prospects of attracting future workers to the public sector.
‘The latest pay offer from the States Employment Board to civil service staff is the lowest of those offered to any group of States employees,’ he said.
Mr Renouf added: ‘[It] represents a further degradation of the standard of living for our members and their families on top of the recent years where below cost of living awards have been made. The offer does nothing to counter the already low morale amongst civil service staff, who continue to receive a lack of respect from their employer.
‘No one has a problem with doctors, nurses and so on getting paid more but not at the expense of other pay groups. Non-consolidated cash payments are not worth the paper they are written on – they are non-pensionable and not added to base salary.
‘At the end of the day, there is only a certain amount of goodwill in the pot, and now I’m afraid to say that it has drained away. This is very disappointing for our current members, and it is going to discourage people from coming to work here because they will be able to see quite clearly that the States of Jersey is not a good employer.’
The States’ announcement has come at a time when a number of high-profile senior posts have been announced in the Island’s civil service, many of which have included salaries in excess of £1,000 per day. Addressing this issue, the new pay offer also includes a pay freeze for any employee earning more than £100,000.
However, Mr Renouf said that it was unfair to single out pay brackets in this way: ‘We don’t support a pay freeze on the salaries of those who earn above a certain amount. Either the principle applies to all our members or it doesn’t.
‘Staff who fall under the heading “civil service” include social workers, child welfare professionals, radiographers and teaching assistants. We will ballot our members on the current offer with a recommendation to reject and are considering an industrial action ballot if the offer is rejected.’