General News, Articles and Information from The POA North of the Border:


Pay Offer Q & A

This is a collection of the most frequently asked questions so far in relation to the pay offer, and hopefully provides some clarity around those issues.

We are aware of other facebook pages where people are publishing information that is at best unhelpful/ inaccurate, at worst deliberate misinformation. It is important that members make themselves aware of the accurate information prior to the ballot opening, so that you are at least making an informed decision in what is a very important ballot for our membership.

Q. Why is there a difference between the C band and D band in year 1 of the pay offer?
A. The difference came about from the union pushing to have the original offer of 6% increased. We managed to move the offer up to rounded off figures of £1500 and £2000 respectively, which equates to 6.4% and 6.6%. That difference comes from the difference in salary rates, and not through any conscious attempts to argue for different % increases between the bands.

Q. Why are the 1st line managers getting less than our operational colleagues?
A. The union argued the very same point, stating that we felt it would be fairer to see them all having the same increase in years 2 and 3. SPS concluded that they had no scope to move beyond the Scottish government policy position around their ‘Low pay Threshold’ and their policy of closing the gap between low and high earners. The significant rise in year 1 takes the FLM’s into the higher earning bracket set by the government, and at that point they are treated broadly similar to the staff groups who are in that higher pay bracket.

The concession we did manage to have included in the offer is that if the government threshold of £36,500 is moved upwards in years 2 or 3, then the FLM’s will also have their pay adjusted in line with any movement.

Q. Why does the offer contain non-consolidated sums when we have a policy not to accept them?
A. It is for each side in any negotiation to bring to the table their own positions and negotiate from there. Management brought forward, in recognition of the points around FLM’s pay in years 2 and 3, a non-consolidated sum to enhance the offer in some way without breaching government policy. The trade union in that circumstance are left with the option of telling the employer to take money that they are offering to our members away again or offer that decision to the membership through ballot. That is what we did in the past in relation to the £2000 payments when we had the same policy position in place, and the membership voted overwhelmingly to accept it.

Q. Why is maximising attendance a feature of this pay deal?
A. The Maximising Attendance policy is already under review and has been for some time now between the employer and trade unions. What changes in it featuring in the pay deal is us agreeing a set timeframe for us to reach agreement and identify an implementation date. Our reps involved in that review met with management as recently as last week and as yet, there is nothing being discussed that unduly alarms the reps in those discussions. I f we do get to a point of failing to reach agreement, then the VIRA process will apply, as is the norm for all our policy reviews under partnership. This one is no different. On the issue of the 6- and 12-months sick pay entitlement, we can confirm here and now that will not change through this process and is out with the scope of this review. These discussions are designed around the Scottish government Fair Work agreement, and with wellbeing at the core of the approach. What is clear is that we have the sick absence figures anywhere in the UK and it is significantly impacting on the operational front line every single day at the moment, so it is in all our interests to try and find solutions to that through partnership.

Q. Can you provide information on how direct recruitment to D band affects current C band officers, and how will these C band officers progress?
‘A. The direct recruitment to D band although a change to current approach, is not a new thing to the service. It is probably how the majority of residential staff were recruited as far back as the early nineties. It is not designed to go over the heads of our current operational members and does not prohibit them from seeking promotion to residential. The inclusion of the wording in that section about ‘relevant experience’ was at the trade unions insistence to ensure that no doors were being closed to their progress.

We have a policy position to review the promotion process anyway as a trade union, and we will be looking to use this as the opportunity to amalgamate both these issues in our discussions with the SPS.

Q. What does the new ‘alternative bargaining arrangements’ consist of, and what does it mean for us?
A. The new pay bargaining arrangements are a crucially important part of this offer that has got a little bit lost in the discussions around other elements. It is also the explanation for this pay offer being a 3 year deal.

As a trade union we have had a policy for 20+ years to get to a position where we are negotiating operational uniform staff pay as a single entity. It is our view that the current pay arrangements and process simply do not allow for proper understanding, recognition or reward for uniform staff, and that our pay has been held back over many years as a consequence. This part of the offer is a commitment to sit with us and build a new pay bargaining arrangement that will seek to decouple the operational and non-operational lines, and have the roles reviewed and measured in a way that is specific to them, and not hampered by the inclusion of other non-comparable roles.

It is a significant piece of work that cannot be done in a short timescale, hence the need for a 3 year period to develop the structure. However, from the POA point of view it is a key element of the pay offer and an important step forward in getting to where we need to be in pay negotiations in years to come.

Q. Is the pay increase and progression payments backdated?
A. Yes. Both of those payments will be backdated to April 2019

Q. When will the ballot take place?
A. the Ballot will be open this Friday 15th August and will close Midday on Friday 30th August. It is a workplace ballot and the outcome will be known by mid-afternoon that day. The timing of the ballot will allow the SPS sufficient time to have the pay included at the end of Septembers pay, if it is a vote to Accept the offer.

2019 Pay Offer - Newsletter.pdf

pdf, 275.2K, 19/08/19, 193 downloads