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WATCH: Fresh moves to free up government millions for pay rises

WATCH: Fresh moves to free up government millions for pay rises

Monday 11 February 2019

WATCH: Fresh moves to free up government millions for pay rises


A plan to free up around £50million of government money for public sector pay rises, which previously lost by just one vote, is to come before the States Assembly again in a bid to finally end the long-running row that recently exploded into strike action.

Deputy Geoff Southern last year brought proposals to amend government spending plans to make money from savings and underspends available for wage increases in line with rises in the cost of living for thousands of staff.

However, the plans lost out by just one vote – 21 to 20 – with five States Members absent, one declaring an interest, and Senator Tracey Vallois, who was then the Chair of the States Employment Board, abstaining from the vote.

Since then, the pay dispute has escalated, with union members from sectors spanning Health to Education opting for industrial action by ‘working to rule’ and even becoming involved in strike action.

Saturday was the latest show of defiance against government protestations that “there is no more money”, with hundreds of workers turning out to “march for fair pay” through the streets of St. Helier.

Among the group were civil servants, teaching assistants, nurses and radiographers, who chanted and carried signs as they walked from Howard Davis Park to the Royal Square where the group gathered to hear speeches from politicians and union officials. 

Speakers included National Education Union Regional Secretary Andy Woolley, Unite the Union member John McNichol and JCSA Prospect President Terry Renouf, who described the public service as “the fabric of the Jersey we enjoy."

He lamented that money he said should have been saved for pay awards had been “spent on interims and consultants from outside the island."

Alluding to the States Assembly, Mr Renouf said the turnout of Saturday’s March should send “a strong message to the people in the big house behind us”, concluding: “We are going to be valued for the work that we do.” 

Video: Senator Sam Mézec addresses the crowd.

Reform Jersey Chairman, and member of the Council of Ministers, Senator Sam Mézec, spoke of how the widespread outrage over public sector pay was inspiring the private sector, stating that they too were now demanding cost of living rises, and claimed that “partnership agreements don’t work."

With “growing concern from the public” over public sector strike action stepping up a gear, Senator Mézec said he believed there would be a “different result” as he revealed that Deputy Southern would be bringing back his plans to amend the Medium Term Financial Plan to free up money for pay rises. 

Telling marchers that there is “strength and power” in standing together, he concluded: “Solidarity. Keep up the fight. We will win.”

GALLERY: The march in action...

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Posted by Dave Mathews on
I find the idea of freeing up money for pay rises by raiding reserves concerning.
How will the momentum be kept for annual pay rises thereafter without tax rises or will raiding the reserves be a regular thing until there is nothing left?
Posted by John Henwood on
Deputy Southern apparently doesn’t understand the difference between a one off saving and an annual increase in expenditure. We have a structural deficit, that means we are consistently spending more than our income. Whilst I understand the frustration of many public sector workers, their terms and conditions compare very favourably with other sectors. A way must be found to resolve the current disputes without driving Jersey deeper into deficit. Both sides must be conciliatory and patient in seeking a resolution and Deputy Southern’s vote catching proposal Is unhelpful.
Posted by William Boyd on
The last accounts for 2017 (last available) show a £23million surplus. I can't count the amount of times the States (or Government, which is it now?) have forecast deficits only for income to be higher than forecast and yet another surplus ensued.
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