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…
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…
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?
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.
(*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…?)