MHKs’ bid to dodge pay cut is slammed

Unite's regional Industrial organiser Eric Holmes

Unite's regional Industrial organiser Eric Holmes

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An attempt by MHKs to exempt themselves from a new pay scales agreement has been branded ‘despicable’ by one union leader.

iomtoday reported this week that MHKs are manoeuvring to avoid a potential £4,000 cut in their basic salary.

Changed terms and conditions for government new starters, introduced this year, could lead to first-time MHKs who win seats in the general election being paid a basic salary which is 10 per cent less than re-elected members and MLCs.

Now Tynwald’s emoluments committee is seeking a Treasury order to put in place a new formula for determining members’ pay - and ensure that all get paid the same and no MHK gets a pay cut.

But Eric Holmes, regional officer for the Unite union, described the move as ‘despicable’ and said MHKs should lead by example.

He said: ‘As a trade union we took no pleasure in having to re-look at rates of pays and T&Cs for new starters to government positions within the New Terms for New Starters agreement, but to see that the MHKs are attempting to negotiate their future pay terms, outside of the agreement, is sickening to see.

‘Minister Phil Gawne worked upon this initiative to safeguard current employees’ pay terms and conditions and throughout the negotiations it was accepted that it would apply to all new starters unless market demands dictated that it needed to be left as was.

‘As this is to be a new election, all MHKs will be new starters and should lead by example by removing 10 per cent from current pay scales.’

In the House of Keys, Policy and Reform Minister John Shimmin explained that the emoluments committee had approached Treasury with a view to proposing an order to put in place the new formula for determining members’ annual pay.

Its aim would be to ensure that all members will get the same basic salary, which is currently £39,542. That figure is currently based on the civil service pay scale and is set at a rate halfway between an executive officer and a higher executive officer.

Mr Shimmin explained that the main purpose of the order was to deal with a ‘potential discrepancy’ between existing MHKs, those newly elected in September who will be new starters and MLCs who would have continuous employment. ‘It would seem inappropriate to have potentially three different sets of salaries,’ he said,

But Mr Holmes said talk of three separate pay scales was ‘nonsense’. ‘Tynwald will comprise new starters from September including those re-elected to serve their constituencies,’ he said. In a message to MHKs, he said: ‘Lead by example and accept you are to be new starters post-election.’

Angela Moffatt, negotiations officer for Prospect, said it’s a case of ‘double standards’. She said: ‘Prospect led on this issue and our members voted through millions of pounds of savings on an on-going basis – and now MHKs want to be exempted from this?

‘It’s bad enough they won’t lead on these issues – but now they won’t even follow. New entrants to the public service in civil service and manual worker roles have a new salary and conditions package which will see substantial cuts to pay, sickness and holidays. Prospect say it’s a double standard that cannot continue.

‘They already get preferential treatment over pensions and if reform goes through will get to pay more to keep their ludicrously OTT Pension. Everyone else will just pay more, get less and work longer. We are reaching a point where this could start to erode good industrial relations.’

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