It was with disbelief that the Permanent Secretary of Department of Finance (DoF) announced late on Thursday evening last week that she had decided the Public Sector Pay Policy for all public sector organisations for 2018/19. This was done without any consultation with NIPSA or the other trade unions across all areas of the public sector.
It is deplorable that our members in the Health Service on Agenda for Change pay heard via the media of the impact that this policy would mean for them. This was despite the Trade Unions, including NIPSA having been engaged for many months on pay for members in our Health Service. Members of all Trade Unions and Staff Side Organisations representing members in Health were engaged in a consultation exercise to consider a formal ballot for industrial action - it is a cynical attempt by the Permanent Secretaries of Health and Finance that our members learned through the media of the proposed settlement for Health Workers. Despite what the media reported for many members the pay increase is 1.5% not the headlined 3%. Our members on Agenda for Change pay are angry at how they have been treated and will not be bought off by the attempts to fool them into accepting a below inflation pay increase. Our members demand full pay restoration. It is totally unacceptable that our members receive thousands of pounds less than a person doing exactly the same job in the rest of the UK. This issue must be addressed now. A separate bulletin will be issued to members in the Health Service following the outcome of the member consultation ballot which closed on Friday 23 November 2018.
Members in the NICS are also expressing their anger and dismay at how they have been treated - it is not acceptable that the Permanent Secretary has stated that civil servants pay will be capped at 1% and that she is now asking the NICS to submit their pay remit to enter into pay negotiations with TUS. Our members in the NICS have suffered significant pay cuts over the last number of years and our pay claim of 7% is fully justified. It is therefore not something we can tolerate and our NICS Executive Committee will be considering what actions we need to take to defend our hard working members who have suffered cuts both in terms of take home pay and additional workloads as a result of the Voluntary Exit Scheme which resulted in over 3,200 civil servants leaving the service. The work they did has remained and is being picked up by those left behind. It is therefore not acceptable that the Permanent Secretary, without any consultation or negotiation with NIPSA, decided to impose this unacceptable public sector pay policy. NIPSA will be seeking a meeting with the Permanent Secretary and her officials to engage on this specific issue.
I appreciate this has come as a shock to members and NIPSA will resist any imposition on members which will further erode living standards. Meetings will take place over the coming weeks to discuss this in more detail with members and representatives.