Representatives of public sector union Prospect have called for more powerful figures to be present during negotiations with the group.

The Isle of Man Examiner spoke to Mick Hewer, negotiations officer for the island’s branch, and Jez Stewart, the national secretary for the northern division of Prospect, about the issues facing the union in the Isle of Man.

This visit came during talks with Manx Care, the Manx Utilities Authority (MUA) and the public service commission, the latter having recently accepting a 6% pay rise.

Mr Hewer spoke about the issue of dealing with these arm’s-length bodies.

He said: ‘We’re negotiating with people who have got one hand tied behind their back.

‘They’re being dictated to by the Treasury as to the parameters that they can negotiate within.

‘I will expect next year, at any negotiations, Treasury representatives because, at the end of the day, they hold the purse strings.’

Mr Hewer spoke about the narrow-mindedness of the people at the other end of the table in negotiations nowadays.

He said: ‘You find more often that these aren’t genuine negotiations, it’s a case of employers saying “This is an offer, take it or leave it”.

‘There doesn’t seem to be a willingness to look outside the box, and not just talk about pounds and pence, but about improvement of conditions and the improvement work-life balance.

‘There isn’t a willingness to negotiate as there was a decade to 15 years ago.’

Mr Stewart, who was over to visit the island for the first time since becoming the national secretary two-and-a-half years ago, said: ‘It’s clear that in the island, we’re facing similar challenges to those which are being faced in the UK, in terms of the cost-of-living crisis and increases in industrial unrest that comes with it.’

Inflation levels were revealed by the Manx government to have increased to 10.1% during October.

Mr Hewer said that union membership is higher than it was pre-covid, however he was unable to give data. He also said that the union has received a revised offer from the MUA of an approximately 6% rise in the base pay of employees.

He said: ‘We are entering another round of talks with the MUA regarding their offer.

‘They made a revised offer after the previous one was rejected at ballot.

‘This will consist of a lump-sum payment of £2,400.

‘This will have an affect of how base salaries are calculated in terms, hourly rate and back-pay etc, going forward.

‘Overall, it comes to approximately 6% rise in wages.’