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'Pay review has hit staff morale' says mayor

By This is Exeter  |  Posted: April 07, 2009

IMPACT: Nick Bye

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TORBAY Mayor Nick Bye has defended the council's new pay review process which he says has hit morale in the town hall hard.

More than 1,800 Torbay Council staff have had their jobs reviewed and as a result some are facing pay cuts, in some cases running into thousands of pounds.

Their current salaries are protected for a year. Others will get a pay rise, back-dated two years.

The change will not affect the most senior ranks, whose posts were re-evaluated last year during restructuring.

A further 1,936 school support staff will receive their letters after the Easter break in.

In 2005 police civilian staff walked out after Devon and Cornwall Police went through a similar process. It led to the eventual resignation of chief constable Maria Wallis.

Mr Bye said the Audit Commission in its March 2009 report on the council had again reiterated it was a national process the council was required to complete.

He said: "It is something Government has told us to do. It was one of the key messages in the Audit Commission report saying we had to get on and complete it.

"It's designed to ensure people in local government are paid fairly, but inevitably there are winners and losers.

"It has had a huge impact on morale within the organisation so all credit to chief executive Elizabeth Raikes and our elected members who are doing their utmost in these very, very difficult time to maintain morale.

"People who are losing are obviously very upset, they have their pay protected for a year.

"But for those who win we have to backdate that payment for two years.

"There are groups of people who have not been paid fairly over the years, but it's not for me to say if people should go up or down.

"However, it does make it very difficult to maintain morale when I generally believe we have a superb workforce who often do very difficult work in difficult circumstances and who are under a lot of pressure and a lot of public scrutiny."

He said everyone was being advised of the appeals process.

"On the other hand there is only a limited pot of money," he said.

For the past three years, the council has set aside a total of £3.3million to cover the cost.

Mr Bye said: "It has had an impact on the budget as we have had to set aside money to cover it. In the end the cost may be neutral on the overall wage bill and it certainly hasn't been a cost-cutting measure."

South Hams Council is still in the process of completing the 'single status' review of pay for all its workers.

It was expected to be finished this spring, but the council has still not announced a date.

Teignbridge Council went through the process some years ago as did Devon County Council.

Schools which are independent, voluntary aided or foundation status could have opted out of the review process.

Of those Torbay Boys' Grammar, Churston Ferrers Grammar and Hayes Primary School in Paignton have opted out.

Roy Pike, head teacher at TBGS, said when they had become a foundation school they had agreed their own pay scales for staff.

"We agreed their contracts would be at least as good as any other school within the area. We gave an undertaking staff would be well looked after," he said.

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    Ann, Preston  |  April 07 2009, 10:32PM

    George you are right, the councillors get paid regardless of what they do,it should go back to the old way of doing things where they had to sign a book for each meeting they attend... if they do not attend then they would not be paid..I have never known so many councillors with a special responsibility allowance being paid............I was also pleased to read there is a call for all chief exeutive's to make their salary and their 'perks' to be made public. I read on the net yesterday that our C/E gets £135-000 plus perks .that was in 2007 so no doubt it has increased by now. It also said there is a relocation fee and car allowances...........nice work if you can get it.

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    john, Torquay  |  April 07 2009, 6:58PM

    All the council workers that are having the pay review should think themselves lucky they arent being made renundent like so many people out there. In the past i have also been told by several council worker that there are a few council worker in some admin posts that could be let go and they wouldnt be missed because all they do is play on the net and send emails allday. So if you dont like it find another job and give the jobs to someone who wants it.

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    George, Torbay  |  April 07 2009, 6:05PM

    At least the staff are actually working for their money. What about the Councillors' allowances? How much is being paid out in "Basic Allowances" ; "Special Responsibilty Allowances"; "Travel and subsistence Allowances" ? Unlike staff wages these payments are increased every year without question. Is it true that Councillors are paid whether they actually do any work or not? Why is this information not published as it used to be - are they too embarassed?

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    shane, Paignton  |  April 07 2009, 5:58PM

    Nick bye Morale is at the lowest i have known in my five years as a council employee, work to rule is being banded around everyone you speak to, do you honestly expect workers to be happy when they have been told for years now pay will be improved under this JE this has not happened do you think it's fair for someone to do years of study, learn there trade workplaced or through other means of qualifictions and put these skills to use for the public of the bay and give something back to the torbay area, to be under paid compared to say some-one in the same post in a differant council with the same skills how is this equal? you are the mayor instead of backing the people you are surpose to be in control of with knowing what you said in the above story "However, it does make it very difficult to maintain morale when I generally believe we have a superb workforce who often do very difficult work in difficult circumstances and who are under a lot of pressure and a lot of public scrutiny." Can you not come out pubilcly and say the lower paid council worker is having a bad deal and support the staff you say are a superb workforce and to make matters worse you are selling us all down the river with the joint venture how is this going to benefit the people of the bay taxpayers money being used to line the pocket of private companys directors at a higher cost to the taxpayer is this really your vision for the future of torbay the area is run down enough without loosing more of the council budgets for fewer jobs done for the same amount of budget ie result more of a run down area less tourists coming back to spend money to help replenish the coffers and it goes on less money for inprovements and making this lovely coastline and the people who live in it all year round a nice place to live!! how can you put your backing to this it's not you and Elizabeth who have to tell your partners/wife/ husband that you got less money coming in for the same amount of workload or more NO MISTER MAYOR YOUR LIFE OR THE WAY WE THE TAXPAYER PAY FOR YOU WON'T CHANGE AND ALL THE HANGER'S ON WE WILL PAY FOR ALL YOUR DAFT IDEA'S TODAY AND FOR MANY YEARS TO COME. IS THIS REALLY THE LEGACY YOU WANT TO LEAVE FOR THE HISTORY BOOKS IN YOUR NAME!!!!!! stop spending money on silly gimmic's and get this great area some where you would want to visit and live Elizabeth Riakes has always told us to go the extra mile for the people of Torbay i'am asking you to do tthe same now and sought this mess out which you have help to create you owe the people of Torbay this, you took the money now let's see some return for are investment in your life style

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    citizen smith, Torbay  |  April 07 2009, 3:44PM

    If Mr Bye and his Consultants had a Pay Evaluation done.The Council Tax Payer would be out of pocket for the millions wasted on Renovating the mayors mistakes and the Herald Express for never printing anything against The Chosen One and his Untouchables!!

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    Dean Alexander, Torquay  |  April 07 2009, 1:22PM

    Posts and not employees, big difference! Let me also point out many posts that were not currently occupied were not even evaluated and thus giving the false impression that the pay range of more senior posts had previously been underpayed, incorrect! Therefore you now have employees being incorrectly allocated huge backpayments that are incorrect - thousands of pounds of tax payers money! While lower grade posts have actually been reduced and down scaled. Making huge pay scale gaps that never previously existed. Great for morale!

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    Adi Nough, Paignton  |  April 07 2009, 12:51PM

    I would just like to correct the Herald it is not 1,800 Council employees but 1,800 posts that have been evaluated and it affects EVERY one of the 4,500+ personnel! I regret that the Mayor is trying to elude that the whole process will be cost neutral, it won¿t be. The Council will save millions in reduced pay and if they deny it then let them publish the figures to prove me wrong! Exactly how many staff have lost out Mr Bye?

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    Roy Winbow, Torbay  |  April 07 2009, 9:29AM

    Of course Nick Bye will defend this stupid pay review, with his ludicrous spending sprees he needs the money. But if it is necessary to cut salaries then,unless a person is genuinely a low paid worker the no one should be getting a payrise in this current economic climate, and certainly no backdating. Can the HE or anyone get the facts and publish details of ALL the pay rises. Nick Bye must have an immediate re-review of this farce before orbay fall further into the mire he is making, If he fails to do this it will send a very clear message of his contempt for everyone other than his puppetmasters and himself.