The government has written to 3,000 employees to seek views on the latest pay offer, bypassing the soon-to-strike civil service unions it blasts for being “far from neutral in their approach" and failing to disclose ballot information.
The States Employment Board (SEB) made a revised final pay offer earlier this month – taking extra holiday entitlement as well as the increased working week off the table.
Trade unions JCSA Prospect and Unite subsequently announced their decision to ballot members on it.
The new deal – which the States Employment Board (SEB) describes as “the best that can be negotiated” - includes the offer already implemented for 2018 and 2019, as well as a “substantially higher offer” for 2020 equivalent to the September 2019 inflation rate – forecast to be around 3.1% - plus 1.3%.
It also includes an offer to work with unions to identify areas where costs can be cut, with a pledge to share those savings 50:50 with civil servants via salary increases from 1 January 2020.
The SEB also previously suggested increasing holiday entitlement in return for a longer working day – something they described as broadly cost-neutral but beneficial for civil servants, especially those working more than their contracted hours. This was eventually withdrawn from the offer at the unions’ request
With unions maintaining their planned strike action this week and next, the SEB today took the decision to write to all civil servants directly to encourage them to share their thoughts “openly, honestly and safely” by emailing Employment Relations.
Signed by Group Director People and Corporate Services Mark Grimley, and SEB Vice-Chair Constable Richard Buchanan, the four-page letter, which includes a timeline of the pay negotiations since last year, reads: “Before we have further discussions with SEB, we want to understand what civil servants think, both about the revised offer and about the previous offer that was rejected by the trade unions.
“We understand the disappointment that the implemented offer for 2018 and 2019 is not being improved, which is why we have sought to offer significantly higher pay increases in 2020.”
Pictured: The unions have refused to reveal the ballot information to the SEB.
The letter goes on to say the unions have refused to reveal the ballot information that led to their rejection of the last pay offer, despite the government repeatedly asking for it “to see whether this represents a majority of civil servants, or whether a minority of union members effectively voted to block a pay rise for more than 3,000 civil servants.”
“Not every civil servant belongs to a union, and it is important, as the employer, that we listen to the wider views of civil service colleagues about the things that directly affect you. This will help inform our next steps,” the SEB representatives explained.
The letter states that SEB has “carefully considered the position as it now stands” and that, given the constraints of the financial plan covering 2018 and 2019, it was “right and fair” to distribute higher offers to groups paid less than civil servants for doing equivalent work.
The document also calls the unions’ neutrality into question, commenting: “The unions have said that they will remain neutral, neither calling for acceptance nor rejection of the offer.
“However, the language of their communications to members, along with their insistence in continuing with planned industrial action, suggests that they are far from neutral in their approach.”
Posting on Facebook, JCSA Prospect suggested last week that the lack of retrospective increases to the 2018/19 pay packet was forcing them to stick by their planned strike action.
They said: “JCSA Prospect have recently informed its members that it will be balloting on a revised offer from the employer but will maintain its strikes planned for 23 and 27 August as the offer has no improvements for 2018/19 #RealTeamJersey.”
The strikes are due to take place at the following times:
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