Belfast Telegraph

End of public pay freeze

By Liam Clarke

The public sector pay freeze has come to an end for most Northern Ireland civil servants.



The Department of Finance has offered many grades pay increases ranging between 0.5% and 6.3% which will come into effect by August next year if the unions accept them.

The offer, which was issued on Monday, contains “some negative elements” and is still under consideration, according to Kieran Bannon of the NIPSA public sector union.

“There was a total pay freeze in 2010 and 2011 but a number of people have been at the maximum point in their scale and have had no consolidated increase at all for up to six years.

“It is appropriate that they should be getting a pay increase now and there was a need for this review,” Mr Bannon said.

Last night a spokeswoman for Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said that the pay freeze had ended on August 1, but that the current offer was unrelated.

She said it was an attempt to “reform and modernise the current NICS pay structures and incorporate a two-year pay settlement”.

She added: “The commitment to undertake such a review was part of the legally binding equal

pay settlement made in 2009 in respect of administrative staff... one of the major issues of concern is the need to address the relative pay of staff at the executive officer grades compared with staff who they supervise.”

Mr Wilson is being pressed by Chancellor George Osborne to introduce regional pay next year, which would peg civil service levels to local private sector wages.

The Finance Minister has so far refused to do this and the proposed increases make it unlikely that he will.

Last month figures released by his department showed that median public sector pay is £105 more a week than the private sector average.

However, the Institute of Fiscal Studies has argued that such figures are misleading because proportionately more graduates and highly qualified people work in the public sector as opposed to the private sector.

Within the public sector some workers are being offered considerably higher increases than others.

Last night Robert Oxley of the Taxpayers’ Alliance rejected any public sector pay increase.

“This public sector pay freeze was imposed for good reasons and any steps taken to loosen its grip while we are still faced with fairly dire economic circumstances would be a mistake,” he said.

Factfile

Proposed pay increases between 2011 and August 2013:

0.5%: security guards, trainees and secretaries. Maximum pay £17,620

4.5%: executive officer. Maximum pay £27,271

4.5%: forest officer. Maximum pay £32,043

6.3%: personal secretaries and driving examiners. Maximum pay £39,675

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