Whilst negotiations over the 2017 pay settlement are still ongoing, they are covered by the 2017-18 budget which includes the public sector pay cap of 1%. Scottish Ministers have already announced that the cap will be lifted for the 2018/19 budget period, but Unions have long argued that our members will not benefit from this until late in 2018 unless changes are made, which is unacceptable.
Senior Union officials including Prospect's National Secretary in Scotland met with both Mr Mackay and the First Minister in May to voice our concerns over pay restraint and the rapid rises in inflation, and this was followed by a letter to Mr Mackay earlier this month reinforcing our position. Now in addition to the commitment to remove the pay cap in 2018/19, we have managed to achieve early access to this change for our members.
Usually where pay settlement dates are brought forward there is a reduction in the preceding award but Mr Mackays letter to the Unions and the guidance which has gone out to employers makes clear that no reduction should be applied in this years pay negotiations.
Whilst the 2017/18 cap remains in place, early access to an unrestricted pay policy in 2018 is good news for members.
Responding to the Cabinet Secretaries letter Prospect National Secretary Richard Hardy said "we very much welcome this move by Mr Mackay, it really shows how strong Unions working positively can influence employers"
The guidance issued by the Scottish Government Finance Pay Policy unit makes it crystal clear that this improvement has been won through the actions of the Trade Unions, it says "the change has been made in response to a direct request from the Trade Unions in light of continued pay restraint at a time of rising inflation".
"This is an improvement won by Union members, and I pay tribute to members of Prospect and the other Unions for delivering this. We shouldn't be shy of telling people that this was down to the Unions, and encouraging others to join so we can achieve more" said Hardy
Prospect believes more can be done however to address the imbalance between the 2017/18 pay cap and the rising levels of inflation and negotiations are continuing with the Scottish Government and other employers about how this can be achieved. We have not ruled out further discussions with Mr Mackay. We will keep members informed of these developments across the Scottish civil and public service as the occur