Thursday, 17 January 2013

Pay and No Say

Vote for States Members' remuneration: proposed increase for 2013 - proposal to lift Standing Order 106 to allow matter to be debated.

Of those present, 16 voted for this, and 31 against, so the States members will be able to take a pay rise if they want.  But even those who voted against the proposal have mostly signed up to no pay rise - certainly for this year.

The names of those 16 who voted in favour of a debate were:

Senator Paul Francis Routier M.B.E. Pour
Senator Alan John Henry Maclean Pour
Senator Bryan Ian Le Marquand Pour
Senator Francis du Heaume Le Gresley, M.B.E. Pour
Senator Ian Joseph Gorst Pour
Connétable Philip John Rondel Pour
Connétable Michel Philip Sydney Le Troquer Pour
Connétable Sadie Anthea Rennard Pour
Deputy Roy George Le Hérissier Pour
Deputy James Gordon Reed Pour
Deputy Carolyn Fiona Labey Pour
Deputy Jacqueline Ann Hilton Pour
Deputy John Alexander Nicholas Le Fondré Pour
Deputy Tracey Anne Vallois Pour
Deputy Patrick John Dennis Ryan Pour
Deputy Richard John Rondel Pour

Unfortunately, as Senator Ian le Marquand pointed out, to not have a debate at all was a mistake; it gave the public the impression that they were scared of the challenge.

The Review Body coming up with the pay rise was, of course, re-appointed by Privileges and Procedures Committee on 7th September 2012 last year. Their deliberations were published on 30 October 2012. While the membership remained the same as for the previous years, the rapidity of the review after the appointments certainly gives pause for thought. The supposed distance between the States and the body would have been better if they hadn't just come up for re-appointment; as it stands, less than a month separates the two.

Some of their comments on the pay increase and related matters are worth looking at:

The Review Body was interested to note that more than half of those who so responded also suggested that additional pay should apply for additional responsibilities

The Review Body noted with interest that there would seem to be more support for additional pay for additional responsibilities than on previous occasions when responses have been received from States members. The Review Body feels that it should nevertheless sound a note of caution.

Now while there has been a note of caution sounded, if such differentials were introduced, it might be possible for some States Members, at any rate, to have an increase well in excess of £800. Various figures have been banded about in letters and online, but let us say, for the sake of argument, an increase of £5,000.

So suppose - just as a thought experiment - the Review Body had decided that because of the more onerous responsibilities and time keeping by Ministers (for example), that some States members should have an increase of £5,000.

I think that even PPC would balk at following the Pay Review Body then in these times of financial restraint, and yet there could be perfectly sound reasons for proposing an increase of that magnitude. It would certainly be in line with other jurisdictions. A number of States members have called for this both in the present and past since the inception of Ministerial Government.

As Deputy Duhamel noted:

Deputy Rob Duhamel - I have not yet decided whether to follow the sheep on this issue. However, is it right to have suggested (by the CM and others) that all members of the Assembly should not accept this pay award whilst at the same time mooting a serious consideration of differential pay bands which would award far more to ministers? This doesn't appear to be fair.

But if PPC would reject it under those circumstances if a differential and an increase of £5,000 was proposed, then their principled stand counts for nothing. It has limits. And if they wouldn't, and would accept any increase, they are seriously out of touch with the electorate.

I should note in passing that all of those who voted for the debate (listed above) and most of those who voted "Contre" have publically said they will not take the pay rise, at least for this year. When CTV asked them if they'd take the rise, most said no, for example:

Deputy Sean Power - St Brelade No. 2:NO I have written to the Greffe declining the pay rise.
Deputy Anne Pryke - Trinity: NO It is up to each member to take it or not. I was one of a few members who did not take the last pay rise and I will not be taking this one either. I have 3,000 staff, all of which work very hard, and have not had a pay rise.
Constable Steve Pallett - St. Brelade: NO It was something I had already said in my manifesto.
Constable John Refault - St Peter: NO I cannot accept the payrise when I have to sit next to people and tell them they can't have one.

I couldn't at first work out what Deputy Tadier's position was:

Deputy Montfort Tadier - St Brelade No.2: Clearly, I am a supporter of giving a fair cost of living adjustment to workers, especially those who are in most need of it. I have always been consistent on this.

And after the decision was made today:

Deputy Montfort Tadier said the decision on pay had to remain out of their hands. He said: "No we have not voted to give ourselves a pay rise... or a pay cut because actually we do not decide that anymore. "We are essentially self employed but we are servants of the island... I want to be able to look the public in the eye and say no I have not given myself a pay rise."

But is he going to accept the pay rise or not? I asked him as he didn't make it plain above, and he said (in a Tweet) that he is going to take it, but donate it to charity.

As for Deputy Geoff Southern; he seems to be a States member supposedly in touch with workers, who has come out clearly in favour of it:

Deputy Southern on the pay rise said, "My advice to them [fellow States Members] would be, look at your conscience and if you think that you are worth it, take it. I think I'm worth it."

Whether the electorate believe that is another matter, and I hope he can look the Union members he supports in the eye.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Geoff Southern is getting about £6k a year more than the average bus driver, and substantially lest than trust fund managers paid to spend half the day looking out of the window.