Saturday, 17 March 2012

Local pay - the Government's cash grab from Northern Ireland

Statement from Finance Minister Sammy Wilson

"This morning's rumours that the Chancellor is set to announce local pay variations for those who work in the public sector in the budget on Wednesday will have immense impact on poorer regions and local administrations such as Northern Ireland Executive.

"First of all, although the measure has been suggested by the Government sometime ago it was always understood that there would be input from local representatives on National Pay Negotiation Bodies giving vital information as to whether or not there was even a problem caused by national pay awards.

"Finance Ministers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have already expressed their opposition to this proposal in recent meetings with Treasury Ministers and had been assured that the implementation of any proposal was on the long finger and not imminent. That assurance was given as little as two weeks ago.

"Secondly this proposal addresses a problem that doesn't even exist. There is no evidence that National agreed public sector wages create problems for the private sector in recruiting workers.

"That is evidence by the fact that with high levels of unemployment the private sector has been able to reduce wages not only in Northern Ireland but in other parts of the UK and where there are labour shortages it is very often in an area where the private sector are not competing with the public sector.

"This policy is really another excuse to grab cash from Devolved Administrations and from poorer regions of the UK in an attempt to balance the Treasury books. The wage freeze which many public sector workers will face could last for years the saving will simply be reduced from the block grants that will be made to the Devolved Administrations reducing further the level of economic activity and spending in those areas, deflating local economies and causing even greater inequality across the UK.

"This is a measure with wide ramifications for individuals and for our economy as a whole and will certainly be vigorously opposed not just by ourselves but by the other two administrations as well as MP's from across the UK since it will impact with equal consequences in the North East, the North West and the South West of England."

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