No extra hours, no answering emails outside work, full lunch breaks…hundreds of civil servants will next week be doing no more than the minimum they are contracted to do in a bid to show the States how their goodwill keeps the island running, after they were refused a ‘cost of living’ pay rise.
The island’s largest public sector workers union Prospect yesterday officially warned the States that members would “work to rule” from Thursday next week – the first phase of industrial action, which could precede a full strike.
It comes after States Chief Charlie Parker announced that disputed pay rises of 1% and 2% would be forced into the wage packets of civil servants, teachers and uniformed service workers without their agreement.
He argued that this was because there was “no more money”, despite protests from Prospect earlier this week that this was not true.
Pictured: Charlie Parker reiterated his previous comment that "there is no more money" within States budgets for pay rises as he informed workers that the deal would be imposed without their consent.
Meanwhile, nurses, midwives, and manual and energy workers were told they would receive a revised offer that will see all staff given the same percentage pay rise, rather than having higher increases targeted at those on the lowest salaries.
Terry Renouf, Chairman of the Jersey Civil Service Alliance (JCSA) branch of Prospect, whose union represents over 2,000 workers, told Express this tactic appeared to be an attempt to divide and conquer.
“They’ve literally just poured fuel over an already burning fire,” he said, explaining why the decision to work to rule had been taken.
“We have gone into formal dispute now… That’s going to mean working contracted hours – no working outside of contracted hours unless payment in overtime is advanced or they can claim it back within flexi-time period – no answering phones or emails outside hours, no going on call unless you’re paid ‘on call’ status, and taking your lunch hour – which most of us don’t, we just work right the way through or your lunch break – and not going off-island if travel is involved outside normal working hours.”
With 600 vacancies already within the States workforce – and now a temporary freeze placed on recruitment – Mr Renouf said the industrial action would help communicate the difficulties the States would encounter were it not for the goodwill of workers, who lose thousands of hours of pay a year going “above and beyond.”
Pictured: Vice-Chairman Mick Robbins (left) and Chairman Terry Renouf (right) from JCSA Prospect.
“What they don’t realise is that it’s civil servants that keep the island running. We have everyone within the legislature ensuring that the island runs correctly in terms of the law, we have finance people to ensure that budgeting is all done correctly, that income is apportioned correctly. We’re the cogs that make the organisation run."
He continued: “[Public sector workers] don’t do this because they get extra pay or time off in lieu, they do it because they care about what they’re doing… We join the public sector workforce because we want to provide a service to the islanders that live here. A lot of people – certainly in finance – inside the organisation could get a lot more money outside, but they do it because they want to ensure the island is a stable, safe and secure environment for children and grandchildren.”
Although not every public sector worker is member of a union, Mr Renouf said he anticipated that those who are not will still take part.
Next week Prospect will be holding an AGM, during which strike action will be considered.
Despite this week’s “disappointing” pay offer, Mr Renouf welcomed the news that Express had succeeded in its appeal to the Office of the Information Commissioner to make Mr Parker’s £250,000 contract available for public scrutiny.
Describing it as a “victory”, he said he was glad the right decision had been made. “It should have been made public straight away in the interests of openness and transparency. “
The States have agreed to send the contract, with some redactions, to Express within 28 days.
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