Public Sector Pay: Gravy vs Salt?

Money. Jersey's got stacks of it, but not enough for everyone
Money. Jersey’s got stacks of it, but not enough for everyone

Jersey, C.I. – Thorny subjects don’t come much thornier than public sector pay. No-one likes a gravytrain, yet hard-working teachers, nurses and street cleaners always deserve better. Hmm…

Right now, there’s a lot of talk in Jersey about how many people the States should employ, and how much they get paid.

Teachers just got a pay rise they say amounted to a freeze. Manual workers face the chop by the dozen. We have fewer firefighters than before.

Meanwhile, senior officials jet round the world in business class.

(Or at least, they did. That sort of thing is frowned upon now.)

In any case, the ubiquitous ‘They’ say £145 million – half of it in payroll costs – must be shaved from States annual spending by 2019. The public headcount is, therefore, shrinking.

So why isn’t the wage bill?

WHO GETS WHAT?

So ‘They’ have to save £145 million.

That’s a big slice of the States £1.15 billion total spend (or £742 million, depending on your outlook), which we know because the 2015 accounts are just out.

The real bloodbath doesn’t get underway in earnest until at least this year, but by the end of last year they’d made a start.

The picture has doubtless evolved in the first half of 2016, but we only have figures for 2015, which is still helpful.

They show us that through last year, the States’ full-time equivalent headcount (not including arms-length bodies such as SOJDC, Ports, Andium Homes, etc *) dropped 138 from 6,272 to 6,134, ie: by more than 2%.

Meanwhile, total departmental wage and salary costs barely budged from just south of £300 million.

So are they only getting rid of those who are paid next to nothing, or are they paying more to those who stay? Guess what…

TO THE ACCOUNTS…

States of Jersey Staff Costs 2015... and scribbles
States of Jersey Staff Costs 2015… and scribbles
20160616_211405
States of Jersey Staff Costs 2014… and even more scribbles

On paper, the answer looks emphatically to be the latter.

In 2015, eight out of 11 departments lost staff. Education, Social Security and “Non-ministerial States Funded Bodies”, were the exceptions, between them gaining 75 jobs (meaning other departments shed 213) while keeping average salaries more or less flat.

In most of the rest of government, average salaries jumped, in some cases considerably…

CHANGE IN AVERAGE STATES SALARY IN 2015

  • Economic Development (30 staff) £53,820 to £78,497 (+46%)
  • Chief Minister’s Department (222 staff) £51,913 to £62,953 (+21%)
  • TTS (420 staff) £38,124 to £40,612 (+7%)
  • Health & Social Services (2,373 staff) £46,388 to £48,117 (+4%)
  • Environment (107 staff) £53,965 to £55,690 (+3%)
  • Home Affairs (640 staff) £51,439 to £52,371 (+2%)
  • States Assembly Support (25 staff) £48,021 to £48,854 (+2%)
  • Non-ministerial bodies (192 staff) £60,415 to £60,556 (0%)
  • Education, Sport & Culture (1,655 staff) £45,947 to £45,284 (-1%)
  • Social Security (237 staff) £39,341 to £38,932 (-1%)
  • Treasury & Resources (233 staff) £50,537 to £49, 219 (-3%)

It’s possible that a small number of highly paid people moving between departments are doing funny things to the figures. But keep reading…

BROUHAHA

The noise just now is about manual workers at TTS facing redundancy.

From the brouhaha, you’d be forgiven for thinking there must be an army of them, tending our  open spaces, day and night.

It’s a small army. TTS employs about 420 all-in, and you can see from above they’re among the lowest paid in government (although their average is above-average, if you know what I mean).

And they are nowhere near the biggest demand on the wage bill. Civil servants are…

2015 CHANGE IN STATES STAFF COSTS BY JOB TYPE

  • Civil Servants: ROSE from £126.6 million to £127 million
  • Doctors & Nurses: ROSE from £68 million to £68.6 million
  • Teachers: ROSE from £48.6 million to £51.9 million
  • Manual Workers: FELL from £30.9 million to £30.1 million
  • Emergency Services: FELL from £22.6 million to £21.8 million
  • Lawyers and Chief Officers: FELL from £6.6 million to £5.3 million
  • Law Officers: ROSE from £2.5 million to £2.9 million (+16%!)

From the above you can see that last year the States spent £30 million (and falling) on manual workers and £127 million (and rising) on civil servants.

So why are manual workers bearing the brunt of the cuts?

PUZZLE

It may turn out to be a question of perspective.

To anyone affected (and I speak from experience) the prospect of redundancy is bound to feel painful, even unfair.

But it wouldn’t be surprising if the financial size of the cuts planned at TTS – if not the human size – are simply in line with other departments.

We’ll know more about the scale of the cuts in July.

The problem – for manual workers – is that other departments can make a big dent in costs by letting fewer but better-paid workers retire and/or not replacing others who decide their skills are better appreciated elsewhere.

Heck, if enough drift off of their own volition, you can even afford to pay more for those who hang around! Perish the thought.

To achieve the same financial effect, TTS will have to get rid of more people and a bigger proportion of its workforce.

And to boot, they may be less skilled and less mobile so justifiably more worried about their outside prospects and, therefore, less inclined to jump before they’re pushed, even though the writing’s on the wall.

In that context – and with no obvious common ground between worker and employer – compulsory redundancies, public argie-bargies, and strike action seem all but inevitable.

Yet a puzzle remains.

When civil-servant grades are, on paper, collectively doing so well while accounting for by far the biggest whack of the wage bill, it’s surprising ministers are so keen to kick the heavily-unionised manual workers’ beehive.

Perhaps they hope no-one will sit down with the accounts and a calculator and figure out what everyone else in the States is actually getting paid.

Thorny indeed.

(*SOJDC, Ports of Jersey, Andium Homes, etc, are in the accounts but are treated slightly differently and are far smaller, in staff and cash terms, than regular government departments . If you want to do the sums, you can, although they don’t record headcount. I haven’t. Another post, perhaps…?)

 

13 thoughts on “Public Sector Pay: Gravy vs Salt?”

  1. I loved reading your blog, so interesting, but do you know what our ministerial government is costing in salary? Good way to cut cost would be to halve the amount of them. What the plan is regarding reducing staff, is tantamount to harassment and bullying, worrying the staff with their insinuations , hoping they will leave before being pushed, absolutely disgraceful behaviour!! All states departments now have more Chiefs than Indians.

  2. Cripes, that’s good. As a States employee that is exactly what is going on – discard low level workers, but we NEED a business manager on three of their salaries.
    Keep it coming, well done

  3. Very informative indeed. Clearly the easiest to get rid of are the lower paid but this does defy logic as the biggest burden are the higher paid. However what you have to ask yourself is who is best to shape the islands economic future – the qualified and higher paid experts or the relatively unqualified lower paid manual workers? It’s a dilema. A balance is usually best in my view. We need both but not in such great numbers. Whilst working in the civil service I noticed what was happening around me. Whereas I was comfortable with a strong small team around me, several of my fellow managers needed larger and larger teams of people around them for security. It was clear to me that you could create a position for everything if you really thought about it and of course with the increasing amount of responsibility came an even bigger salary as your grade was elevated.
    I have never been convinced that outsourcing was the way to go and I think we will see the error of our way in the future. Sadly too late for the poor guys who are being shed.

  4. The issue with the public sector salaries is those at the top and the creation of high grade jobs that frequently aren’t required and the constant paying of consultants for jobs the heads of department ought to be able to undertake.

    Let’s not forget the mess we are in is down to the mistakes of the Ministers in respect of Zero/10 and other decisions, which will include, I’m sure we will see in time, the Finance Centre.

    I have now worked for the States for 10years, having dropped £3000, 5 days holiday, private health care, paid social events & a bonus, to take a job that I felt benefitted the Community, as a support worker; I have since moved on to Education.

    Since being in the States, I have given hours that I was neither paid for not received any time in lieu for, but was fine with this as I am passionate about my work and felt it important & that’s just me, I have seen my colleagues giving hours upon hours with no thanks or reward, other than feeling they tried their best. I have seen the same colleagues near breaking point due to workloads they have.

    I have also discovered that much of what you do is not appreciated, because the public don’t understand your actual role and you are an easy target for the public, journalists and the like, who label you negatively & spend much of their time highlighting why you do not deserve your salary; which mine by the way after 10years is £34K, at least £10K less than I would be on had I chosen to stay in the private sector, although with the other additional benefits I would have received in my other job, the monetary value is far higher.

    We also see the politicians jumping on the bandwagon to demonize us & tell us we need to “get real”, in what other business would your CEO & directors take swipes at you like this?

    Workloads have been increasing in many departments with little or no support, whilst staff members in most, but I appreciate not all, areas have dropped.

    With all the figures you discuss what wages are acceptable for an average Civil Servant; or should we work for free & feel grateful & privileged to just have a job in the service of the community? Do those who are skilled but chose to serve the public and who have made a sacrifice financially for that, not deserve a half decent wage that means they have a hope of having some quality of life in the island?

    We are making savings in our department as we can, I mean there is even a debate if you request a Lever Arch file to store documentation! & yes we do recycle until things are too broken to be used!

    How much of the public actually understand the job we do & the functions they serve? Would the value they attribute to the role be different if they actually knew? or would they choose just to carry on spinning the ‘pen pusher’ stereotypes as it serves their agenda? With us by the way having almost no forum to speak out & have our views properly heard.

    The public need to make a decision of what type of society we should have; one that brings about a decent enough quality of life for all, with good public services that everyone can access & benefit from (yes, that also needs to spend the money it has wisely – again this lies with the ministers and those at the top); a fair society where there are those who are wealthier (often, but not always, as a result of luck during birth) but nobody is forced to continue working 3 jobs at minimum wage just to put food on the table… And on that note, for the first few years I worked for the States I used to work 4-5 evenings a week in a pub just so that I could cover my outgoings (I don’t smoke & rarely drink) and rent of a small 1 bedroom town flat!

    Or

    We go for an American system where we destroy the public sector, force down wages, which is what happens when everything is privatized and see the privileged living on the backs of the less so.

    People also need to remember that many of our roles do not have an equivalent in the private sector due to the very fact that they are community supporting roles; thus you can’t compare wages as the function of the roles are so different.

    In terms of TTS, it is disgusting what is happening to the most vulnerable workers & absolutely I will continue to fight these redundancies, as I have been doing so far.

    I implore people to think a little bit before they speak and remember us ‘Civil Servants’, we are humans too with families, homes and bills and also by the way we pay tax and a good number of us also do voluntary work.

  5. I’ve said for ages that the civil service not only takes the biggest chunk, they are the real decision makers. It’s time for a mega shake up here. Shame no one listened to Kevin Keane. It’s up to the politicians to do something about this, the civil service are not going to upset their own gravy train. Some of those salaries are very high. What and who exactly are non-ministerial bodies?

  6. How true! They are to scared to get rid of civil servants because they know to much of what is going on that the public do not see or know.

  7. Is the rumor I heard about a year ago,that if a civil servant takes redundancy,he can move to another department,rather than retire.
    If so open to abuse one would think.

  8. You are not looking I the right places to find the true expenditure of our dipstick leaders you have not counted in the CEO of each department are all on over the £100.000.00k then you look at all the expense accounts of all the CS CO and States members it’s like opening the sweetie jar they spend without a second thought of were that money comes from it’s just easy money for them the checks and balances are a waste of space to be honest for a small island the whole public sector is overstuffed and I don’t include the manual workers as they do earn there money it’s all the pen pushers the level of managers to workers is a joke in some areas you have three to four levels of management for 8/9 manual workers you just do not need that amount of top heavy personnel and the wage bill flys high it’s a joke and it’s on us the taxpayer

  9. It’s the usual thing of the rich at the top don’t care at all. The rich – poor divide gets bigger and bigger. Pay nurses, firemen, teachers etc more and people at the top who are just parasites less (or get rid). I am very happy to pay tax when spent well, sadly I despise paying my tax, if you see the point!

  10. This is something that should be published for all to see, not everyone has access to FB etc…
    Maybe we should have a comment from the chief minister about these figures?
    Interesting!!

  11. Thanks all for leaving comments. Interestimg thoughts. Apologies for the delay in publishing them. I’m new to this blogging business so didn’t realise I had to ‘approve’ everything. Lots more to come. I’ll keep writing if you keep reading! Best, Mike.

  12. Would Chief Minister Ian Gorse please explain to low and middle earners how the Bailiffs large wage packet has increase from £204,911 to £339,000 in only five years ?

    As chairman of the States employment board Senator Gorst appears far to generous in giving away the tax payers hard earned money while scraping in double and treble taxation from low income and middle earners.

    2010.

    Bailiff £199,911 – £204,911

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/jersey/low/people_and_places/the_states/newsid_8728000/8728328.stm

    2015

    The Accounts show that the Bailiff, Sir Michael Birt’s, remuneration package was between £330,000 and £339,000.
    States accounts 2015 page 67 – 68.

    http://www.gov.je/Government/PlanningPerformance/BudgetAccounts/Pages/StatesofJerseyAccounts.aspx

    The senior states public sector employees, especially the Judiciary wages are a complete scandal while they cut the jobs of gardeners and front line staff.

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