Wednesday, 27 June 2012

West Midlands Regional Secertary calls on MP to retract regional pay comments

West Midlands UNISON Regional Secretary, Ravi Subramanian has called on Tory MP Aidan Burley (Cannock Chase) to retract comments he made in the House of Commons, which wholly misrepresented the union’s position on government plans to introduce regional pay into the public sector.

Questioning Labour MP Rachel Reeves, Burley used a sentence from a UNISON report to suggest that the union is in favour of introducing regional pay. But Mr Burley failed to mention the crucial sentences which follow, which qualify the statement. His cynical, selective editing presented UNISON as being in favour of government plans to introduce regional pay, when the opposite is true – as is fully explained in the report.

Ravi Subramanian, said:
“Parliamentary privilege is not an excuse to peddle half-truths and lies, and Aidan Burley MP’s disingenuous comments in the House of Commons must be retracted. UNISON is firmly against plans to introduce regional pay in the public sector. The entire thrust of the report he quotes sets out why the Government's policy is flawed and does not reflect practice in the private sector. The sentence he lifted is taken totally out of context and is very misleading.

“Public sector workers – including those in Aidan Burley’s constituency – know that the plans for regional pay are not about increasing fairness, but about cutting pay plain and simple. The plans would not only lead to staff shortages, but would spark an upsurge in expensive bureaucracy, and take money out of hard-pressed local economies, just when they need it most. They must be dropped.”
This is what Burley said in Parliament:
"I am glad that the hon. Lady read my quotation in The Daily Telegraph this morning. As she has read out a couple of quotations, perhaps I may read one back to her:

“location-based pay systems offer increased flexibility and a systematic approach to addressing recruitment and retention issues at a local level.”

That is from UNISON’s policy paper “Location-based pay differentiation”, which was published in September 2011. Does she agree with UNISON"
Later on he says:
"I noted that she did not reply to the quote in my intervention, so I will repeat it to her now. UNISON has said in its location-based pay differentiation paper of September 2011 that said “location-based pay systems offer increased flexibility and a systematic approach to addressing recruitment and retention issues at a local level.”

Government Members agree with UNISON in that analysis, and I shall be interested to hear whether any Labour Members, many of whom will doubtless be taking donations from UNISON to their constituency Labour parties, also do.

The Government are right to look at more local, market-facing pay and to end the anomaly of national pay bargaining —"
The full extract from page 4 of the report is below, with the part he quoted highlighted. The sentence which immediately follows makes it very clear “location based” does not mean “local pay” and that there are different models of “location based pay” which includes models exactly like those currently used in the public sector. The report says:
“In organisations with a national reach, it can be difficult to set a single pay rate for each job that is sufficient to recruit and retain staff for all of the company’s locations and location based pay systems offer increased flexibility and a systematic approach to addressing recruitment and retention issues at a local level. A common misconception is that such companies use a wide variety of different pay rates for every location, when in reality there are three broad approaches to varying pay by location:

- national pay scales with additions in London and the South East (and in some cases high-pressure areas known as ‘hot spots’)

- zonal pay systems with locations categories into a zones, each with its own pay rates

- complex local systems, which allow for more local variation and include devolution of pay setting to local level in parts of the public sector.”
In the very next paragraph, on the same page it says:
“Most large, multi-site, organisations have national pay structures with additions for London and the South East, even those with zonal pay systems tend to broadly mirror the traditional hierarchy of London, the South East and the rest of the country. These approaches are easier to manage and avoid the potential problems associated with having a large variety of rates.”
The full report can be downloaded here.

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