The Civil Service Executive Committee have been giving consideration to the content of the NICS Pay Claim for 2018-19. In considering all elements of the claim the Executive Committee were very mindful that in light of the 2017-18 pay imposition of 1% and the continued lack of a Finance Minister and a NI Assembly that these factors needed to be included in a pay strategy to press home a meaningful increase in rates of pay for all members. It can no longer be accepted that members will have pay offers imposed or receive significantly below inflation pay increases.
The Civil Service Executive Committee wish to now consult on the key elements of the 2018-19 pay increase as follows:
- A 7% increase on all pay points including the maximum;
- A 7% increase on allowances;
- A review of all allowances to ensure they are reflective of an appropriate rate given the majority of allowances have not been increased for over 15 years;
- Further scale shortening for all scales from AA to Grade 6
The Civil Service Executive Committee believe an increase in rates of pay of 7% can be justified on the basis of a pay loss over the last few years and projected rates of inflation which are circa 2% for 2019. Members are reporting that many are struggling to make ends meet with some struggling to pay their rent/mortgage and other essential household bills. It is alarming that in work poverty for public sector workers in Northern Ireland is increasing with recent figures indicating that 40% of workers in the public sector would like to, but cannot afford to keep their home in a decent state of decor, over 25% of public sector workers cannot afford to make savings of £10 per month. This is a clear indication that the lowest paid workers are really struggling and pay is not keeping up with inflation. It is highly questionable when members who for example are involved in the delivery of social security are also recipients of those very same benefits. How does this fit with the current Government mantra - "make work pay"?
The Executive Committee also recognise that for other members they do not believe or feel valued for the work they do. It is important that real information is available to fit with a campaign strapline "I am worth it". It is important that NIPSA can ensure that all members believe they are appropriately remunerated for the value of the work they do. This is clearly currently not the situation and after many years of austerity the Civil Service Group Executive Committee are giving a clear message that our members are worth a decent pay increase and if necessary we will fight to ensure that this is delivered. No longer can our members have meagre pay increases imposed - they all deserve much more. The Civil Service Executive Committee are committed to engaging not just on the pay claim but on a strategy to drive home a decent increase for all members.
Since 2010 the UK Government, via the Treasury, has imposed a pay cap on civil servants. The impact of this is that pay has not kept pace with inflation. There have been years of no pay increases or pay capped at 1%. NIPSA did lobby various political parties and particularly Westminster MPs on the issue of the public sector pay cap. While the DUP have indicated that they were instrumental in removing the pay cap it is disappointing to note that in recent days the Treasury has issued pay remit guidance which states this year, Government departments will be able to make average pay awards within the new range of 1%-1.5%. This is totally unacceptable and as a result NIPSA will be making strong representations to DUP MPs who can influence the UK Government under the supply and confidence arrangements. It is not acceptable that NIPSA members will be expected for a further year to accept a pay increase of between 1% and 1.5%. Our proposed claim of 7% is realistic and would just restore the pay loss experienced by members since 2013.
NIPSA is also committed to addressing the pension issue going forward. It is not acceptable that members can be expected to pay increased pension contributions as a direct result of the length of time negotiations take or for HR Connect to implement. NIPSA has sought a meeting with the Department of Finance Permanent Secretary to address these issues. As previously indicated AA and AO's had to pay an additional pension payment of approximately £20, with DP's and Grade 7's paying between £80 and £120 just by virtue of the impact of the lateness of the 2017 pay increase. NIPSA had sought for impacted members to receive an ex-gratia payment to cover these additional payments - however this was rejected by Management Side. NIPSA has raised the issues with political parties asking them to put pressure on the Department of Finance to overturn this decision. It is deplorable that members are being expected to pay the price of political failure.
Campaign to Deliver a Decent Pay Increase
NIPSA's Civil Service Executive Committee are committed from the outset to seek to secure a decent pay increase for members. The proposed 7% increase in pay and allowances is justified and is not an inflation busting increase - it would simply restore the monies lost by members since 2013. It is clear that a detailed strategy to win this claim is necessary and as well as consulting members on the pay claim the Executive Committee will also commence an engagement strategy with all branches to seek to deliver a meaningful strategy with members fully engaged to raise the confidence of members that we can and must deliver a real increase for members.
Work is ongoing in putting together a detailed strategy to deliver a real and meaningful increase for members. This will include branch, regional meetings supplemented by information leaflets aimed at members, other leaflets aimed at Government and another leaflet aimed at convincing the public that civil servants deserve a decent pay increase to ensure the public recognise "you are worth it".
It will also be necessary to ensure we have a social media strategy aimed at members and others who engage in the various social media platforms.
In order to ensure that all members and branches have the opportunity to respond to the consultation and in recognition that we are in the summer period the consultation will run from Monday 16 July to Thursday 6 September 2018. The Civil Service Executive Committee will meet on Monday 10 September 2018 to consider the consultation responses. Please now make the arrangements for your branch consultation meeting.