Assembly reneges on civil service pay

Anger and frustration has greeted the latest developments on NICS pay. Already eight months overdue – the pay offer was due to be paid last August – a formal offer was finally received in March 2010. The wait has not been worth it however, as it has amounted to a pay freeze on the max points of all scales. These points are recognised as the rate for the job as all workers are expected to progress to the max of the pay scales when they have completed enough service. It is also being seen as a freeze on all who are due to retire.

It is not only those on the max points who are being targeted. The other scale points on the grades at EO2 and above are to receive a miserly rise of £270. Those who are on the AO, AA or equivalent grades are to receive nothing. While this flat rate rise could be seen as preferable to a 1% rise, as it gives more to the lower grades, the fact that some of the lower paid grades gain nothing is an insult.
On top of this, those workers who are not yet on the max of their scales are being offered their 1 step progression – which they expect as a right of their employment – as part of the pay offer. This has long been a source of contention in the NICS. Other public sector workers receive their progression as a right when they complete another year’s service. Only civil servants are forced to negotiate these within their pay negotiations. It adds close to 3% to the cost of the pay offer and leaves little room for a proper cost of living rise. However, not even this is extended to all grades. The AA and AO grades are to receive their 1 step progression six months after other grades on 1st Feb 2010.

NIPSA, in discussions with management, had also hoped to make progress towards equalising leave allowance across the NICS. At present, the provision discriminates against younger workers but unfortunately proposals to change it were not part of the formal offer.

It was therefore no surprise that the Executive Committee, with a Broad Left majority, rejected this offer which amounts to a freeze on the going rate for the job and fails to delivers on annual leave.
Urgent discussions are being held with Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson, who has already signalled management side’s withdrawal from the Pay agreement for 2010 negotiations. That move is a direct attack on those members who are expecting their 2010 increment this year. A dispute on 2009 pay is unavoidable if the Assembly does not improve this offer and will in all likelihood engulf 2010 pay as well.

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