Ryeview – July 2008

2.25% of a hefty salary is a pay rise worth having

John Clark writes…

First published: July 2008 – Gazette & Herald

MPs have given themselves a less than inflation pay rise (2.25%); in their case, a mere £1,350 per year. Meanwhile, local government workers have received a ‘final offer’ of 2.45%. A council worker on £15,000 will receive an increase of £368. The MP has a cut in luxuries while the council worker has a cut in basics. Energy cost increases, at over £500 per household in 2008, obliterate the pay increase.

Three months ago in a Ryeview, I wrote that five new posts were being created at Ryedale District Council. The cost to the Council Tax payer would be £350,000 (10% of the RDC part of the Council Tax). I must apologise for misleading you. It is six posts at a cost of £420,000. Each post holder will have a 15% or more increase and a whole new pay ladder to climb. Those senior to these posts have pay increases of more than inflation. The council bosses are all ok. So much so that MPs were saying that their £1,350 was not enough. It left them at less than head teachers and council bosses. So what? MPs and council bosses are supposed to be concerned about the incomes of the people in their patch. Why are they so keen to make sure that they get their own noses further into the publicly funded trough? There are those who say that salaries for the ‘top people’ should be kept ‘high’ so as to attract the right calibre of people. Well if this is the treatment of local government workers by these over paid senior managers and MPs then this approach has failed.

There is another twist to this conflict between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. Mrs Thatcher made it illegal to have a strike without a strike ballot. However, the same logic is not applied to the bosses – in this case the local councils. Ryedale Council can oppose a strike without any information, facts, debate or vote. No reasons have been given as to why RDC won’t pay 3% (the amount sitting in the budget for a pay increase) or be able to pay 4%. It gets worse. RDC in its communication to employees has stated:

  • ‘It is the limit of what we can afford’
  • ‘The offer uses every penny we have available’
  • ‘… an extra £100 a year that takes the total increase from 2.45% to 3.3%’

These statements are misleading, inaccurate and wrong. Why would RDC senior managers want to treat their fellow workers like that?

The council goes on to say how much employees will lose if they are on strike for two days. Looking at the numbers it is obvious why the low paid should strike. From those further up the scale many will be striking as loyalty to their low paid colleagues. It will be interesting to see at Ryedale, how many of the nine £50,000+ managers come out in support of the low paid. My hunch is that a £400 to £800 loss of income will be too high a price to pay to support their colleagues.

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