Some thoughts on pay…


Photo from (Creative Commons)

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?

#oneaday, Day 28, Similarities in driving

This weekend I journeyed to that there London for a friends birthday drinks. The event was held at the Phoenix Artists Club, a charming little bar in the west end of London. Due to train tickets being stupidly complicated and it working out very expensive for me & Dr Otherhalf to travel by train, I decided to drive into London!

Not to the venue itself – that would just be crazy – but to a friends flat in Kilburn. And it turned out to be a fairly simple drive, straight off the M4 and follow the Tom Tom. And I noticed something once we came off the M4.

Since moving to Wiltshire in July, I have noticed that getting about is a slow process. In Peterborough, we have a fantastic parkway network, which means you can get anywhere swiftly, on a dual carriageway. Super. Not in Wiltshire. Windy, single lane roads. With tractors. Many tractors. I first noticed this when i came to my first mileage claim for work. I had done a round trip to Salisbury from my office, it took an hour each way. 21 miles. I had to double check. Surely I had not only gone 21 miles in an hour? I mean I don’t drive like a maniac, but I get where I am going.

Now, once we got off the M4 into London we had about 7 miles to go. ETA – 30 minutes. So, if you want that London driving experience – come to Wiltshire.

#oneaday, Day 9, Tom yum soup rules!

First of all, hello to my subscribers, and also to my casual readers. I was very happy to have start moderating comments today, and I hope you found my answers useful.

It’s been a busy weekend readers. Worked late on Friday then had a few drinks with the neighbours. Saturday was breakfast with a hungover wife, then the quest continued to obtain a Wii controller with which to play GoldenEye. Following my post on Friday about needing to find one, I searched every conceivable shop in Devizes where I work to no avail. There is no games shop in this small Wiltshire market town, but I tried electronics stores and supermarkets (3). Nothing. I found this very frustrating, but I don’t live there. Surely Chippenham would give me better success?

Stop one – PC World/ Dixons. Nope. Sainsburys – no. Thankfully, a quick trip into town and the small (but pricey) independent games shop yielded success – and GoldenEye is much more playable with this controller – even if 007 Classic mode is very hard. I moaned  a lot about the poor shopping experience to my wife, who understood – she is from a rural community, where as me, I am used to big city living!*

Sunday morning we got up and went off  ‘to do something’** and so we trundled off to look at a White Horse – a peculiar feature of Wiltshire. Carved out of chalk hills, although the one we visited was actually white painted concrete.

Westbury White Horse

Westbury White Horse

It was breezy up on that hill, and as we headed home in time to do some grocery shopping (I never said we got up early) I was desired for the ingredients for Tom Yum soup – a very fragrant Thai soup, which requires lemongrass, galangal, birdseye chillies, kafir lime leaves, fish sauce, spring onions, lime and coriander. Aside from the galangal and maybe the kafir lime leaves, I was confident I could get all this stuff in Sainsburys. HOW WRONG WAS I?

The answer is – a bit. No fish sauce. No galangal no kafir lime leaves. I was mildly peeved. However, they did stock a Tom Yum soup paste, which it turns out makes a pretty good version, even if I do say so myself. Wife also impressed – good job!

I would still like to make it from scratch, and I did add fresh lemongrass and coriander. and the lack of decent shopping where I live is beginning to disturb me. Could this actually mean that they were right in the 80s, and Queensgate, Peterborough is the capital city of shopping? A disturbing thought for us all….

* Well, Peterborough. Small city living.

** My wife’s favourite thing to do to stop me playing computer games