I thought it would be useful to provide an update on the 2022 NICS Pay Claim that was shaped both by membership consultation and ongoing discussion within the CS Group Executive.

In terms of the broader context of public sector pay, you will be aware of reports earlier this week of the UK Government’s full acceptance of the recommendations from the Independent Pay Review Body that determines the pay of public sector workers within the NHS as well as for police and teachers (in England). While the recommendations (on the NHS) directly affect some workers in Northern Ireland, this body is not part of the framework that determines NI Civil Service Pay. The framework of pay policy in this regard operates within the devolved Department of Finance (DoF).

While in the circumstance of a functioning Executive it is likely that pay policy and a forecast budget would already be in the public domain, given the current situation (of a non-functioning Assembly/Executive) it has been confirmed to us that the DoF is currently still exploring how pay policy for 2022/23 can be advanced. In addition, conscious of where the most powerful economic leverage on these matters resides, the Finance Minister and his counterparts in the other devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales wrote to the new Chancellor of the Exchequer on 18th July 2022 outlining the need for action in relation to the “cost of living” crisis, “spending pressures”, and “public sector pay”. On the latter the Ministers state the need for “a fair and appropriate response on public sector pay and…firmer assurances on sensible pay uplifts for our public sector workers.” (Full text here).

2022 Civil Service Claim

While this is the context from which an offer will emerge from the DoF we have already written to the Management side re-iterating the point that, notwithstanding the current political uncertainties, as this is a pay award due from 1 August, it is now clear that once again staff will not receive their award when it is due. The substantive Pay Claim we submitted (see link below) outlined: the rationale for investing in Civil Service pay, the extent of the cost of living crisis; the real-terms pay cuts that civil servants have had imposed upon them and concluded with the statement that:

the crisis is here and needs immediate action in relation to pay. This should begin by meeting our pay claim of: a pay offer equal to the current rate of inflation plus an additional 5% on pay/allowances and further shortening of all pay scales.

Additional and separate to this Pay Claim, given that “Covid compensation payments” are now becoming commonplace across both the public and private sector, I also wrote the Minister of Finance to consider such a payment (equivalent to £500 net for each of the last 2 years from August 2020 to July 2022) for all Civil Service and NDPB staff. These payments, justly deserved by civil servants and NDPB staff, are being sought as recognition of the service that staff have provided, and continue to provide, through this pandemic. In addition, in the context of the current cost of living crisis they also provide some “compensation” for the continuing cut in living standards exacerbated by the two inadequate pay awards that were imposed during the pandemic period.

Finally, we have signalled to Management Side that while we are ready to begin negotiations on any proposal they bring to the table, we cannot accept that conditions would be attached to any pay offer.

Carmel Gates
General Secretary
Attachments:
Download this file (NICS-2022-Pay-Claim-2.pdf)NICS-2022-Pay-Claim-2.pdf498 kB