Civil service pay deal is defended

Tynwald buildings, Douglas

Tynwald buildings, Douglas

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Union leader Angela Moffatt says she can understand why people will criticise the pay rise for the island’s civil servants – but insists they are targeting the wrong people.

And she said that members of the Prospect union who voted overwhelmingly for the deal accepted that the pay award can only be funded by cuts in jobs.

It was announced on Friday that the island’s full-time and part time civil servants plus all those whose pay is linked to civil service rates – including MHKs and MLCs – are getting a 0.5 per cent pay increase, backdated to April 1 last year plus a 2 per cent pay increase for 2014/15.

The double pay rise will cost government about £2.5m. It takes the basic salary of a Tynwald member to £38,771.33.

With no extra money available to fund the pay increases, it will be up to departments to find extra savings in their pay budgets.

Prospect union negotiations officer Ms Moffatt said money could not be taken out of the budgets for services to fund the award - and the only way of paying for it would be by reducing staff numbers.

She said: ‘You can’t use money from other budgets to pay for this pay rise - that simply cannot happen.

‘Our members have always known that if there is any pay award there could be a resulting impact on job losses. If you don’t increase the pay budget there’s no other way. The impact on services will be if you have fewer staff to support those services.’

Ms Moffatt said the increase for most civil servants only covered the cost of their increased pension contributions, which are rising by 1 per cent each year.

‘The government is giving with one hand and taking with the other,’ she said.

The Prospect boss said the deal had not gone to arbitration as it has in some previous years. This was an offer made by the employer, the Civil Service Commission, and members had voted overwhelmingly to accept it.

Ms Moffatt said there was a great deal of misunderstanding by the public about the range of civil service jobs.

She said: ‘The bulk of our members are not on massive incomes. A lot of our members do frontline jobs in the public services.

‘People can criticise this deal and I can understand why. But they are targeting the wrong people. Civil servants didn’t cause this mess. To blame the employees or the unions for the size and cost of the public sector is quite wrong.

‘It’s not fair that most average working people whether in the public or private sector have no control over what has happened with pay and have been seeing real incomes reduce year on year.’

Ms Moffatt said the size of the civil service had been steadily falling, through retirement, natural turnover and incentives to take voluntary retirement.

‘In the civil service we’ve been pro-active in trying to reduce staff levels. It’s not been a massive axe overnight but a slow and a gradual reduction which is less visable, less dramatic.’

Manual workers whose pay is negotiated by Whitley Council have agreed a pay freeze with the guarantee of no job losses until April 2014.

But Ms Moffatt said: ‘There is no guarantee over job security. We know jobs are going to be cut anyway.

‘We would like to see a fair deal for everyone – in the public sector but also in the private sector. This is not a race to the bottom.’

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