This week it was agreed by the elected members at Wiltshire Council to raise the pay of senior managers (corporate directors and heads of service) by almost 16%. This meets a contractual obligation to pay staff the ‘national median salary’ and following a review it was found that this was not the case. See the article in the local press here.
Now, as a trade unionist and member of staff, you might expect me to not very happy with this. And some colleagues I’ve spoken to since it was announced are not happy, and it does feel a bit rubbish as those of us employed on NJC terms and conditions (the national negotiated terms and conditions for local government employees) have just had a 1% pay rise after 3 years of pay freeze. However, I am an optimist, and take some heart from the words of the council leader Jane Scott and other cabinet members.
1. They recognise that fewer people are going to be doing more work. There is a reorganisation going on at service head level. The rise will actually, when this is done, mean the senior staff bill is lower than it is currently. And that is true for all the staff at Wiltshire Council. We just lost 250 people! So that must apply to everyone.
2. They recognise that to keep and attract good people, you need to pay a competitive salary. Now whilst NJC terms are national, people need motivation to stay with the council at a time when we are having to work harder with fewer resources, and not go off to other big local employers, or start up their own ventures.
3. The business plan backs growth and staff. The newly agreed business plan sets out to ‘To stimulate economic growth’ and ‘To develop the knowledge, skills, behaviours and leadership of our workforce’. And because local government workers are mainly employed where they live, and 52p in every £ paid in wages is spent in your local community, paying you local government staff more boost the local economy,
So, there are fewer of us, so the wage bill will still be lower than before the cuts. We spend our money locally boosting the local economy and contributing to growth, and if you going to invest in people to make them better at what they do, then you want to keep them. A real terms 16% wage cut since 2008 has not been easy as the cost of living continues to rise for everyone (staff and managers). So as the consultation on the 2014 pay claim starts for union members let’s apply these principles of pay award for senior managers to all staff, and let Wiltshire Council lead the way in saying our staff matter, and the deserve to be paid a fair days wage for a fair days work when it goes to the Local Government Association (LGA).
After all, if Everybody Matters, wouldn’t that be fair?