Backbencher criticises NED’s £22K pay packet

THE appointment of a non-executive director to a government-owned company who is paid £1,467 a day illustrates ‘the gap between the rich and poor’, a backbench politician has said.

Deputy Geoff Southern. Picture: JON GUEGAN. (30781663)
Deputy Geoff Southern. Picture: JON GUEGAN. (30781663)

Deputy Geoff Southern said the remuneration for the NED role at the Jersey Development Company, which pays £22,000 for at least 15 days of work, was particularly disappointing given that the States Assembly had recently rejected his call to up the minimum wage from £8.32 to £10 per hour.

He said: ‘They are prepared to pay out the “going rate” for those who are earning lots of money, but not prepared to pay for ordinary workers.’

Treasury Minister Susie Pinel described the remuneration as the ‘going rate’ for a senior NED role during a States debate two weeks ago.

Working the 15 days – the minimum the role requires – equates to £1,467 a day, or £183 an hour for an eight-hour shift.

Deputy Southern had brought a proposition to increase the Island’s minimum wage to £10 by 2022, but the move was rejected by 25 votes to 20 last month. The government announced in April that it would be carrying out a six-week consultation to review the process for setting and increasing the minimum wage.

‘It illustrates the gap between the rich and poor,’ said Deputy Southern, who added: ‘We cannot afford not to increase the minimum wage.’

At the last States sitting some Members said the level of payment for the non-executive role was problematic but others argued the debate undermined the candidate.

Carolyn Dwyer, a former director of built environment for the City of London, was appointed to the JDC board by 35 votes to seven, with one abstention. Senator Sam Mézec, Constable Sadie Le Sueur-Rennard and Deputies Southern, Mike Higgins, Carina Alves, Rob Ward and Kirsten Morel voted against the appointment, while Deputy John Young abstained.

The payment that comes with the position is ‘£22,000 for a minimum of 15 days commitment per annum’ for three years, according to the nomination proposal – a level set in 2018 that has not changed.

The proposition described the non-executive director of Shoreham Port Authority as a candidate ‘of extremely high calibre’ who ‘will bring with her a very strong set of skills, expertise and experience’.

Deputy Inna Gardiner, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee, said: ‘I do believe the proposed appointment is incredibly talented, has an impressive track record and will bring diversity to the board.’

However, she queried how many applicants from Jersey there had been and the composition of the JDC’s board. Deputy Pinel, who recommended the appointment, responded that there were a small number of Jersey candidates who had been long-listed. The board numbered five Jersey residents and two non-Jersey residents, she said, and risked ‘becoming too insular’ with an Island appointment. Deputy Pinel added that from her experience, these directors did ‘far more’ than the minimum specified by their contract.

‘We should not be dragging extremely competent candidates through such public criticism,’ she added.

Deputy Higgins said: ‘Yes they are qualified, but when we cannot pay people a living wage in this Island I find it totally unacceptable.’

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