There are worse tests than FTP
Friday 1st February 2013, 3:27PM GMT.
NOW that the Assembly has reaffirmed its belief in the overwhelming need to deliver £31m.-worth of savings under the financial transformation programme and built in a constant efficiency drive, it has a potentially far harder test of its resolve ahead.
The trigger is twofold: imposing a pay freeze on all States employees – and in this context it should also apply to Crown Officers, the commercialised utilities and the Guernsey Financial Services Commission – and ensuring that the pension reforms identified by the working party are implemented as planned from next January.
The need for resolve is also twofold: firstly, not to be swayed by an over-unionised and overly
influential public sector workforce and, secondly, to act decisively – through changing the legislation if necessary – to ensure that a pay freeze can be made to stick.
As things stand, employees, who have nothing to lose, default to a tribunal in the hope that the employer, who has everything to lose, is saddled with a compromise deal by a panel who face no consequences from their decision.
It is legislation rooted in the need to keep men in the greenhouses and is hopelessly behind today’s new realities. Especially if FTP is to be embraced and pay is to be linked to performance and increasingly self-financing.
And it is also clear that the public sector completely took its eye off the ball over pensions and now that proposals they do not like have come forward, not only are they crying foul, but they are also fighting among themselves.
Predictably, ‘industrial action cannot be ruled out’, islanders have been warned.
Well, strikes are unlikely but public sector employees can quickly make life uncomfortable – no one wants an overflowing cesspit – without costing themselves much money, which is why pension reform is now such a test for this Assembly.
Ultimately, it has to face down its 4,700 staff, none of whom want to lose gold-plated pension rights, or back down in front of considerably more voters who can all see the pressing need for change.
As this battle hots up, securing the future of FTP will be seen as child’s play.