Pay and the 10%

Salaries and the levels have rarely been out of the news since the MP “allowances” scandal broke. Local Government is now (and rightly so) in the firing line. I still like to use the old saying “A fair days pay, for a fair days work”. I think that is true now as when the phrase was first coined.

The Leader of the Council Alec Robertson said in a recent press interview that he was undertaking a root and branch review of senior officers pay. I welcome this, as I have always struggled with the concept of high pay and the level of pay off’s when people move between Authorities. I am not saying they should not be paid to reflect their roles and workload. You could argue that they would be paid more if they were in the private sector, but this is not the private sector. The private sector has share holders who will show you the door pretty quickly if you fail to live up to the job.

I am though struggling on how this review will take place. Sure if someone said I am going to take a pay reduction to reflect the difficult times we are in, then I doff my cap to them for taking the lead. But what happens if someone refuses to take this lead, or are not interested in taking a pay cut. Can they be forced? My understanding of this is that they cannot be simply handed a pay cut. It’s easy for people to criticize, but how many people would take a pay cut, or turn down a pay rise if their bosses asked?

Staff are protected by law, or else any unscrupulous employer could chop and change some ones pay citing “we have had a slow week” so I have cut your pay. Many would say why I should take a cut as I work hard and do what I am employed to do. Why should they be punished for a Government “overspend” which is resulting in these massive cuts in funding from central Government? Around £110 million today (so far!)

The Leader this morning has clarified the position by saying “ While the Council is, indeed, looking at the pay and conditions of staff as part of its savings strategy, it is certainly not the case that pay cuts are being imposed on senior staff.

That is good news indeed. Many staff a very worried for their jobs. The figure of 2000 people to lose their jobs is huge, and staff are rightly concerned.  An officer said to me when we were talking about a problem replied ” I am not sticking my head above the pulpit, as I don’t want to be seen as a troublemaker”. In other words, they don’t want to rock the boat or they could be handed their P45.

There are many ideas on how much people should be paid. Some say no more that 4/5 x the lowest paid worker. Sounds simple enough, but would it work? Before anything is indeed implemented they it needs to be fully investigated with staff, Unions and Councillors, and not simply, a knee-jerk reaction. Let’s look at the long term on this.

No one is under any illusion to the tough times again and all sides will do everything they can to safeguard as many jobs as possible. I guess we will have to wait till the end of October when the Government releases the full details on its “spending review”.

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