The issue of equal pay for work of equal pay has been longstanding and not addressed by successive governments to the extent that dealing with it now will come at considerable cost. Deputy Le Clerc and myself sought to lay an amendment to the 2020 budget changing the wording used by Policy & Resources Committee to ensure that greater assurance was given that this would finally be addressed. After discussion with that Committee, we agreed to an amendment that would do that. My speech on the amendment is set out below.
Sir, I thank Policy & Resources for listening to Deputy Le Clerc and myself in order that we could arrive at an amendment with which we are both happy.
I actually have some sympathy for Policy & Resources. The issue of fair and equal pay is not new. Previous administrations over decades have failed to grasp the nettle and address the inequality in pay scales.
The problem now is that the inequality between various public sector workers, and not exclusively those under Agenda for Change, has grown such that it is likely to come with a large price tag and will take quite detailed planning and a number of years to put right.
But, something has to be done. The current situation is not sustainable and is actually costing us money. We have people leaving hard to recruit areas and taking up other better paid public sector roles which require less qualifications, we have agency staff who would like to become permanent staff but can’t afford to.
The problem is assurances have been given in the past but nothing has been done. That is not the case now with the Royles review in respect of Agenda for Change which came out of the Partnership of Purpose policy letter and the wider work by Kojima that has been commissioned mapping and benchmarking terms and conditions across the States. That is certainly a step in the right direction. But that is only part of what needs doing. I was pleased that Policy & Resources agreed to put in a proposition with respect to equal pay but was disappointed with how it was worded.
‘To endorse the intention’, which seems to preface a number of propositions this year, just did not seem enough and it concerned us that we may end up not having a debate before the end of this term. I am pleased that P&R have agreed to this more robust wording. I suppose the only issue I have with the amendment in front of us now is the ‘if appropriate’ which begs the question when would a timeline not be appropriate in respect of fair and equal pay. However, I am happy to live with it in the spirit of cooperation and think it better than the original proposition and would ask all members to approve it.