Guest Post by Andrew Seymour
I've just read your blog and feel frustrated at the chancellors announcement with regard to the continuing pay freeze and the intention to abolish pay progression. He appears to be incapable of understanding the full impact of these measures (whether or not he's out of touch with us normal Joe's in the real world is open to debate).
If I may, let me give you a bit of background info. I have been employed by HMRC for 9 years now and PCS have let me down badly on the subject of Pay Progression. We were given assurances by PCS and HMRC back in 2007/08 that we would reach our maximum pay grade within a time frame of 5 years. But many, many employees including myself have yet to reach this holly grail. Manly because these assurances were not bound up contractually but were offered and accepted under implied terms only. This has led to a divided workforce, those on a sliding scale of greater pay on one side and those earning less on the other. Even though as comparators demonstrate we are doing the same job, like for like with the same terms and conditions. The feeling of resentment and anger aimed at PCS has a real tangible presence.
The collective bargaining power has since long gone over this issue amongst others (I wont go into the details here but Tom Taylor proved that). This I feel has been down to the lack of real understanding of member issues and off course lack of any meaningful strategy form PCS. But we must fight on.
George Osborne says: “Progression pay can at best be described as antiquated; at worst, it’s deeply unfair to other parts of the public sector who don’t get it and to the private sector who have to pay for it.
“So we will end automatic progression pay in the Civil Service by 2015-16.
This announcement means - staff will never catch up with colleagues on the same pay band. How can the chancellor advocate such a discriminatory pay structure? This does not sit comfortably with Equal Pay Legislation, especially with the recent ruling against the local authority of Dumfries and Galloway.
Alastair Pringle, Scotland director for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which intervened in the appeal, said: "The Supreme Court judgement confirms Dumfries and Galloway Council's attempt to limit the circumstances in which women can compare their work and pay with that of their male colleagues is inconsistent with the fundamental right to equal pay for equal work."
He said the decision "keeps the door open for thousands of other women who find themselves doing equal work as their male colleagues in the same employment, but who are paid less".
PCS should look into taking a similar course of action and raise Equal Pay claims against HMRC and other government departments. This may get the employer and government's attention. We have many examples of colleagues doing the same job, like for like job descriptions but being paid less. Its time PCS supported those members and challenge pay discrimination head on.