Thursday 13 December 2007

Magic numbers

Broken promises
I try so hard, I really do, but then those magicians we fondly refer to as the Government attempt one sleight of hand too many. The latest Gordon Brown inspired wheeze is to reduce the value of morally binding pay settlements by delaying paying up. Don't try telling me this was all the Home Secretary's idea. Work out how much you want to pay and then delay implementing the agreed pay increase for a calculated number of months; so that by the time the increase is implemented it's only worth the amount you wanted to pay in the first place. The Government, true to form, have thrown a large number of red herrings our way.

Principal among these are pointing out the need to keep public spending low and the relatively good pay increases of police officers over the last ten years. These are good points, however they are completely irrelevant. Whether we believe the police do a good or bad job, or perhaps have some personal grievance against the police, is also completely irrelevant.

The only relevant detail in this case is that an employer and the employees used arbitration, and have done for the last 27 years, to decide on the pay rise. An amount of 2.5% was agreed upon. If the employer couldn't afford this they should have said so at the time. What they shouldn't have done is agree the rise and then subsequently renege on their agreement by delaying implementation. In this case the Government have delayed the pay rise so that the actual value is only 1.9%. Those in the Government that still claim this is a 2.5% pay rise need to take remedial lessons in mathematics... or they could learn to stop lying.

This is important regardless of whether you think the police are doing a good job or are paid enough. If the Government are free to treat employees in such a manner it’s a green light for all employers to use equally duplicitous methods to cheat their own workforce.


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