From Mr David Hughes
Sir, - The General Secretary of the TUC, Frances O'Grady, makes
several valid points in her article on wage and salary inequality
Recently, the TUC, in one of its briefing emails, made the point
that inflation affected the lower-paid more than the higher-paid
because the lower-paid spend a higher proportion of their
disposable income on essentials such as housing, food, household
utilities, and transport.
With that in mind, last year, the two unions that represent a
sizeable proportion of staff in the organisation for which I work
abandoned the usual claim for a fixed percentage of pay, and sought
from our employer the total amount of the applicable salaries bill
and the number of full-time-equivalent posts. By dividing the
former by the latter, they ascertained the amount were every
applicable employee paid the same increase (pro-rata for those
I say "applicable", because our joint unions negotiate only for
the first half of our salary scale, but, by tradition, the upper
half on executive spot salaries get the same percentage. Although
we are not a public-sector body as such, we are subject to the same
one-per-cent limit on overall pay, because we receive government
grant-in-aid. Were we to exceed the one per cent, our grant-in-aid
would be reduced proportionately.
Treasury guidelines say only that our yearly pay increase should
not exceed the one per cent of total salaries, and do not dictate
how that amount is shared. For the 2014-15 pay year, we requested
for each full-time employee an equal share of the available pay
pot, which would have benefited those for whom we negotiate by £316
each - a marked difference from a straight percentage applied to
every individual salary, where our lowest-paid would have received
£189, and the highest-paid more than £700.
After the usual foot-dragging of pay negotiations (at least in
our organisation), management declined our approach, and offered
one per cent overall, and an unconsolidated bonus for most of the
lower-paid. With Christmas and its associated expenditure looming,
it is no surprise that their offer was accepted, despite being to
the long-term disadvantage of the lowest-paid.
What rankles is that the pay claim is decided by those on the
second, higher-paid, part of the pay scale, most of whom are able
to save, each month, more than our lowest paid have to live on
If this Government really believes that we are all in this
together, and wants to assist the average "hard-working"
(hard-pressed, more to the point) family, it should insist that, at
least over that part of the working population that they control,
the one-per-cent increase should be paid in equal shares. It won't
cost the taxpayer any more.
Another campaign for the TUC to pursue?
23 Greenway, Kenton
Harrow, Middlesex HA3 0TU