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Let councils have a say over pay

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Let councils have a say over payOn 20 May 2003 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Socpoclaims local authorities are saddled with an outmoded system when deciding whatto pay staff. It is urging the Local Pay Commission to allow each authority toset individual pay levels, dependent on local economic conditions. Jane Lewisfinds out whether such autonomy would work or if it would lead to chaos A radical new approach to paying local authority staff is needed, allowingindividual councils a much greater say in how they reward their staff. This is the view of local government HR body, the Society of Chief PersonnelOfficers (Socpo), in its submission to the Local Pay Commission, which isconsidering whether pay negotiations should continue to be set at a nationallevel. Chancellor Gordon Brown favours devolving pay negotiations to the regions,but Socpo has called for even greater autonomy so the 350 local authoritiesaffected can set salary levels individually. Socpo vice-president Alan Warner said the real problem lies with localauthority employers being saddled with a system “dating back to the 1940sand 1950s”. The unions, which remain vehemently opposed to local pay bargaining, argueit will result in pay being driven down in some areas. However, Warner said thereal message is that pay levels “don’t need to be driven any higher”,with even the lowest pay in local government being set well above the minimumwage. Indeed, what he terms the “blunderbuss” approach to setting pay,regardless of local economic conditions, has created some startlingdisparities. In London and the South East, for instance, public sector managers(paid an average £530 a week) trail way behind their private sectorcounterparts at £780 per week. Conversely, public sector managers in the NorthEast are overpaid by comparison. “What looks relevant in one area begins to look bizarre inanother,” said Warner. He also maintains that the narrow slant of nationalpay bargaining has detracted from the importance of other issues such astraining and development. “You can’t handle pay in isolation of the wholeemployment experience, but that’s the system we’ve got now,” he said. The arguments for doing away with national pay rates have been wellrehearsed. Proponents insist that fixing public pay centrally undermines thetwo critical factors that should determine reward: local market conditions andperformance. By controlling their own budgets – and setting their own terms andconditions – local employers could move quickly to address key skills shortagesand provide the kind of flexibility more sophisticated services that a modernsociety demands. The ‘premium’ pay rates for overtime currently enshrined in the NationalSpine (which sets uniform pay rates), for example, make it prohibitivelyexpensive for many authorities to open libraries, school and advice services attimes when the public wants to use them. The Socpo report’s robust tone represents a change for HR in localgovernment, said the body’s president Mary Mallett. “Personnel people haveshown they are very good at making policies [devised by other people] work. Butwe were very keen that the HR voice was heard loud and clear on thisissue.” But how realistic is it to assume that local authorities have either thewill or the expertise to take on the responsibility for negotiating pay levels?As Socpo points out, local authorities have always had the option of going italone – national pay bargaining has never been compulsory for individualauthorities – yet only a handful have chosen to do so. Moreover, opponents argue that exposing essential services to market forcescould be a recipe for disaster, exacerbating skills shortages in poorer areasand fanning conflict. You need only look at the difficulties the rail industry has experienced interms of staff shortages and strikes since competing companies began settingdifferent pay rates. Not even the most aggressive private sector companies setpay on a regional, let alone local basis, they say. Far from aiding modernisation, the move to local determination is a”dangerous and dated policy”, said Unison general secretary DavePrentis. Some critics also question local employers’ ability to handle negotiationseffectively. During the firefighters strike, for instance, even Downing Streetslammed the employers’ negotiating team as “a shamblesÉ who clearly do notknow how to put together a properly costed deal”. That kind of allegation makes Mallett really angry. For a start, she said,the fire employers were negotiating nationally rather than locally. And critics”are perhaps forgetting how much more sophisticated local authority HR hasbecome”. Those who doubt it need only look at the “ingenuity”they have repeatedly demonstrated just trying to make the National Spine work. So what can account for the ‘painfully slow’ movement into local bargaining?Certainly, some authorities have been opposed to reform on ideologicalgrounds. But many more, who would like to seize the reins, have been thwartedeither by their size (the shift would be prohibitively expensive for manysmaller district authorities) or by a system which, despite paying lip serviceto the notion of greater local autonomy, is easily hijacked by the unions. Socpo is particularly critical of Part 3 of the 1997 Single Status Agreement– the national blueprint for negotiating terms and conditions – which theunions have consistently used to block local variations. This led manyauthorities to conclude that changing terms and conditions was simply toodifficult to attempt – a fact made all the more infuriating given that only 50per cent of council workers are union members anyway. Socpo remains optimistic that when the Local Pay Commission reports thisautumn, it will recommend removing these impediments. In an ideal scenario,said Warner, organisations would be looking at a gradual, and completelyvoluntary, roll-out over three to five years. In the meantime, HR needs to get its house in order. Many local authoritiesalready have a good foundation in terms of excellent data on employee profiles,job descriptions, competencies, pay rates, working arrangements and so on. Nowis the time to build on that by being absolutely clear about your authority’spriorities and the strategies needed to achieve them. “Make sure you’ve got all the building blocks in place so when you needto take decisions you can make them in context,” said Warner. This willinvolve holding lengthy sessions with staff and unions. Bear in mind that localunion officials, accustomed to leaving negotiations to national leaders, mayneed training in this area. Realise too that while any move to local negotiation will undoubtedly bechallenging, the Socpo proposals provide for a continuing national framework toset overall pay budgets and advise on best practice. “We’re not saying let’s tear up national pay bargainingaltogether,” said Warner. “We still need some benchmarks set out at anational level. The emphasis should be on “setting a climate in whichpeople will be tempted to make the shift”. What is being proposed here, isnot “dramatically radical so much as relevant”, added. Mallett, meanwhile, is “eternally optimistic that when the chips aredown, local government falls back on commonsense”. “What Socpo recommends will work. More importantly it will make senseto the people who have to deliver,” she said. Socpo’s proposals in a nutshell– Abolishing the National Pay Spine(“an inconsistent and outmoded product of history”), which sets outspecific salary levels for all employee groups – An end to the specific procedures for negotiating terms andconditions laid out in Part 3 of the 1997 Single Status Agreement – The maintenance of a watered-down national pay body thatwould set overall local authority pay awards, yet leave decisions on howbudgets are allocated to the discretion of local employers. The national bodywould act as an overall framework, responsible for best practice advice – Rejecting regional pay bargaining, which has “none ofthe advantages of national standards” and many disadvantages in terms of”constraining the ability to produce local pay strategies”– A move away from the irrelevant low pay and genderdiscussions that have dominated the local government remuneration debate Comments are closed. last_img read more

Earl, Pavelski once again dominate scoring

first_imgAfter leading the team in scoring with more than 40 points each last season, forwards Robbie Earl and Joe Pavelski are at it again.Earl leads the team through the first four games with five points, one goal and four assists. Pavelski is not far behind, averaging one point a game with three goals and one assist.The impact of the line — consisting of Pavelski, Earl and team captain Adam Burish — was never more evident than last weekend. In the two games against St. Cloud, the three combined for two goals and five assists.”That whole line played well,” head coach Mike Eaves said at a Monday press conference. “If you’re going to be a good player at this level, you have to rely on the people you play with and they were pretty fun to watch.” In the Badgers’ 3-1 win Saturday night, Pavelski and Earl each notched a point in all three Badger goals.Earl and Pavelski both assisted on Ryan MacMurchy’s first period goal and Earl earned an assist on each of Pavelski’s two goals.Watch for that line to lead the Badgers — both scoring goals and opening opportunities for other lines — throughout the season.”They’ll make it easier for us,” Eaves said. “If we have all our lines firing, we can be as good as anybody. I think we’ll get to that point.”WCHA schedule puts UW at home early: For the second-straight season, the Badgers’ schedule has them at home in the early stages of Western Collegiate Hockey Association play.After a road series with St. Cloud last weekend, the home series with Alaska-Anchorage marks the beginning of a stretch that will see UW at home in three of the next four weekends.Wisconsin will host UAA before going on the road to North Dakota. That series will be their last road trip until Thanksgiving break.”Well, it’s pretty much been our course of scheduling for the last couple of years so we’re used to it,” Eaves said.Last year, the Badgers played four of their first six conference series at home, which helped them jump out to an early lead, before fizzling down the stretch. Wisconsin will see a similar stretch towards the end of this season, when four of its six series in January and February are on the road.But, similar to how the football team has to deal with not having a bye week until the end of the Big Ten season, the hockey team isn’t dwelling on the things it cannot control — which right now means winning at home and putting up early WCHA points.”We just have to control the things we can control,” Eaves said. “We want to win every game, but if you look at the big picture it is important to put those points in the barn early.”League-wide instant replay scheduled to begin: After experimenting with instant replay at Denver and Colorado College last season, the WCHA — and the NCAA — decided to implement it for the 2005-06 season.However, delays in getting the equipment delivered and set up at all WCHA arenas has postponed replay thus far. But the use of replay to confirm the scoring of controversial goals is scheduled to begin with WCHA action this weekend.”Last year with DU and CC having it, it proved to be an advantageous thing just because the fact that your getting the right calls,” Eaves said. “Now that everybody in the league will have it … in important situations, they’ll make the right calls, so I’m excited for it.”In other talks of changing rules, Eaves was asked if he ever expected the NCAA to institute a shootout, like the NHL has added at the end of overtimes to nix ties.”I think the fact remains, how does it affect RPI? Until they figure out how to get around that, I don’t think we’ll see it in the college game,” Eaves said.Wisconsin has played to three overtimes in just four games this season, tying once.last_img read more

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