.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Regional pay

Having been a civil servant for 16 years before becoming an Assembly Member, I am very familiar with the concept of regional pay and have been opposed to it for as long.

If it were to be introduced then it would entrench Wales as a low-pay economy, both in the public and private sectors. More to the point it would mean men and women doing the same job at different ends of the country for different rates of pay. I think the concept of being paid the rate for the job is an important principle in the public sector.

But let us not fool ourselves that this is some ideological right wing plot. It is a bureaucrats' solution to a public funding problem that is occasionally picked up by politicians of all hues and then (hopefully) dropped when the consequences of introducing it and opposition to it is fully understood. That is why I believe the current 'consultation' is wrong-headed. It opens a door that should be kept firmly shut.

We should also take the outrage of the opposition parties to the concept of regional pay with a pinch of salt. After all, as the Welsh Tory Assembly Leader points out in today's Western Mail letters column, they have form on this issue.

It was a Labour Government that introduced regional pay for the courts service in 2008, when the then Secretary of State for Wales, Paul Murphy, described regional pay as a "reality in the economy as a whole", and that "pay should reflect local labour market conditions". Equally, Plaid Cymru's manifesto commitment to devolve control over teachers' pay and conditions to Wales is also a step towards the regionalisation of pay. They cannot have it both ways.

My view is that we should stop the political games and unite to kill off this idea again before it gets any further traction. Will the Welsh Conservatives join us in that endeavour?
Therein lies the problem with 'devolution creep'.

More often than not it results in devolution of pain rather than power. That is what is being proposed here.

The Welsh Government will get the blame for cutting public service pay, without getting the requisite powers to rejuvenate the economy and the accompanying benefits, which would result in higher living standards for the people of Wales and better rates of pay in the public sector.

It's a lose-lose situation.

Thus far, I agree with you, Peter.

Unfortunately devolution is a two-edged sword for nationalists. Salmond and the SNP grasped that point, whereas IWJ and Plaid failed to get it. They got embroiled in devolution politics and paid the price for it.

Carwyn Jones and Labour have no vision, direction or consistency - merely responding or reacting to the winds which blow down the M4.

We in Wales are the losers, now and in the long term, with rank unionists at the helm in both places, and Eurosceptics holding sway in London.
Devolution of teachers pay and conditions to Scotland has not resulted in any reductions in pay. Indeed, it has allowed their government to introduce very beneficial arrangements such as a guaranteed one-year probationary post for newly qualified teachers, dedicated time outside the classroom for preparation and making a statutory 35 hours a year for training and development for each and every teacher. It would indeed, be beneficial if a similar devolution was available to Wales.

This is completely different from the Labour and ConDem proposals for civil service pay which specifically specifies LOWER pay the further away from the SE of England.
Devolution of pay and conditions to Wales is more likely to lead to lower pay for teachers here. As for your claim that the current Government has "proposals for civil service pay which specifically specifies LOWER pay the further away from the SE of England" that is manifestly untrue as there are no proposals, least of all as detailed as you say. There is a consultation and that is all.
"I think the concept of being paid the rate for the job is an important principle in the public sector."

Excuse me, but the public sector is there to provide services to the public at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer. If local private sector workers get the local rate for doing a job, why should public sector workers get more than private sector workers?

This is nuts - and it is one of the reasons y government spending is so out of control forcing high taxes on the private sector and consequent reduction in private investment.

What will drive up wages for all concerned in Wales is not some silly rigid thinking of paying public sector workers more than private sector workers in Wales, but high value job creation in Wales driven by innovation.

But the Welsh Government doesn't 'get it' and so Wales will continue to 'enjoy' a private sector in decline.
Peter, you say there are no proposals to pay public sector workers lower pay in Wales. That's not true. There are already five regional pay ranges effecting the courts/justice system for new recruits.. It was introduced by the Labour Party in 2007. Are you suggesting the ConDems are going to reverse this attack on public sector workers in Wales?
Try re-reading the blogpost. It is precisely about those current arrangements. They are not proposals, they are in place already and were put there by Labour who are supposedly opposed to regional pay. What I am saying is that there are no specific proposals by the current government to pay public sector workers in Wales less, just a consultation on regional pay.
Peter - do you think that London weighting should be abolished? - do you think that if a Welsh school is buying in school dinners, or cleaning, it should only use companies that pay the same across the country? - should bus drivers get the same nominal rate of pay? - shouldn't Welsh people choose and pay for Welsh salary levels, and ditto Londoners?

Remember that money goes MUCH further in Wales than in the South East.
Tim, no, no, yes, and no. Do you think that the interests of the overheating South West England economy should leave Welsh workers permanently 185 worse off than the rest of the UK? Should Wales be established as a low wage economy permanently by statute? Should public sector workers in Wales be paid less than those in Guildford for doing the same job? Regional pay is a recipe for inequality, it will divide the country even more economically and it will further overheat the South East of England.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?