‘Modernising’ pay the Council Way

The dispute between refuse workers and Edinburgh Council over Modernising Pay has had a high profile. What hasn't is that all council staff with the exception of departmental directors and teachers will be affected by these changes, and the majority of staff stand to lose out significantly on pay and conditions. The council are looking to deal with being £92 million in the red by attacking the pay and conditions of their poorest staff.

The majority of managers have seen their pay increased through the modernising pay process…

Modernising Pay is made up of Equal Pay issues and implementing the Single Status agreement. Equal Pay legislation has been in place since 1972, and there are issues because women working in jobs at the same grade as men did not get the same bonuses, and were being paid less for the same grade of job. Instead of bringing equality by increasing female staff's pay, the council has chosen to impose poverty wages and reduce pay & conditions. The council are proposing:

  • Currently staff get an incremental pay rise each year until they reach the top of their grade. This would be replaced by Performance-related pay, which would depend on your evaluation, and how much money was in the budget: even if you were judged to be excellent at your job, if a pay rise meant your manager was overspent (which would bring their evaluation down), then you wouldn't get it. Also, if you and colleagues in your team are all judged to be “excellent” this becomes the average, and no-one would get a rise.
  • Make working hours run from 7am-9pm- there would be no overtime unless you worked before 7am or after 9pm. Overtime rate would be set at 1.5 times your wage- many employees get double time currently.
  • Public holidays would be added to your annual leave entitlement. Many staff rely on getting double time for working public holidays to make up their wages.

Gross Mismanagement

It is obvious that the council is using Modernising Pay to save money, but why is the council in this state financially? No managers have been held to account for the gross mismanagement that has brought us here: it's not bin men, cleaners, dinner ladies, janitors etc who have put the council £92 million in the red.

However, the council did manage to find £70 million to bail out its arm’s length ‘regeneration’ companies like PARC in Craigmillar and The Waterfront in North Edinburgh. Yet again, public money, our taxes, are being used to cushion the blow for private companies, whilst front-line staff face losing their homes. The council is also looking to ‘outsource’ many services in order to cut costs, and it is clear that this attack on pay and conditions is designed to soften staff up for the private sector.

The council have repeatedly stated that only a small proportion of staff will lose out, but what they don't say is that these staff earn at most the average national wage, or less. The majority of managers have seen their pay increased through this process. The council have put a lot of time and resources into convincing the tax paying public that Modernising Pay is addressing injustice: the opposite is true. This is to fairness and justice what Sir Fred Goodwin is to financial planning...