Union condemns decision to abandon bonus mechanism

10 August 2009

For immediate release

Union condemns decision to abandon bonus mechanism

Today's announcement by Northern Ireland finance minister Sammy Wilson that the 220 most senior civil servants in Northern Ireland would not be receiving any performance-related bonus payments this year has been condemned by the FDA. The FDA is the union for senior managers in the civil service.

FDA Northern Ireland secretary Jim Caldwell said:

"Over a number of years base pay awards for members of the Senior Civil Service (SCS) have been falling as the proportion paid in one-off bonuses has been increasing. To simply abandon this element of pay in one year is a knee-jerk reaction which is highly counter-productive and de-motivating.

"These performance-related payments were originally introduced as a cost-saving mechanism - they are not consolidated into base pay and are therefore non-pensionable.

"It must also be understood that the current system of SCS bonuses bears little relationship to the large-scale bonuses in the private sector, which have been heavily criticised in recent weeks.

"Following Sir David Normington's fundamental review of the SCS reward structure, the Cabinet Office is working towards a new mechanism for SCS pay. These proposals are to be put in the autumn to the independent Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB), which makes recommendations to the Government on senior pay. It makes no sense to make this change in advance of consideration by the SSRB."

Today's announcement also indicates that pay band minima and maxima for members of the SCS in Northern Ireland are being frozen at 2008 levels.

Caldwell said: "The announcement on the freezing of pay bands will mean real-term pay cuts for staff carrying out some of the most demanding jobs in the public sector.

"Furthermore, the lack of consultation around these decisions and the refusal of the minister to meet with the FDA, despite our requests, are particularly regrettable."

Notes for editors

1. The FDA is the trade union and professional body representing 18,000 of the UK's senior civil and public servants. Our members include policy advisors, senior managers, tax inspectors, economists, statisticians, accountants, special advisers, government lawyers, diplomats, crown prosecutors and NHS managers.

2. Members in HMRC are represented by the Association of Revenue and Customs (ARC), a section of the FDA.

3. The FDA (formerly the First Division Association) should be referred to simply as "The FDA" and can be described as "the senior public servants' union".

4. For further information contact:

Jim Caldwell, FDA Northern Ireland Secretary, tel: 07967 126778.

Oliver Rowe, Communications Officer, tel: 020 7401 5588 or 07590 838696.