DIT staff reject 2% pay offer after department's bid for higher rise in 2019-20 is not approved by Treasury
FDA says members feel their Brexit work "isn’t being valued" as they turn down offer
Staff at the Department for International Trade have turned down a 2% pay rise, which the department was forced to offer its employees after its request to the Treasury to fund a greater pay increase in 2019-20 was not approved.
The pay settlement offered to DIT employees last month would have seen salaries rise by an average of 2% – the maximum departments could offer for the current financial year without appealing to the Treasury.
The flat-rate pay rise would have been given to all staff between administrative assistant to Grade 6. Separate performance-related pay bumps would have been given to staff with the highest performance rating.
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Members of the FDA trade union, which represents senior civil servants, have now rejected the offer. In an email to members last month, union bosses recommended staff reject the offer “in the strongest terms”.
Before making the offer, the department had attempted to obtain extra funding to increase pay rises but its business case was not approved.
The FDA said it had worked with DIT to inform the proposition, which made the case to the Treasury for the department to be given greater flexibility to give staff pay rises of more than 2%, but when this attempt was unsuccessful for the 2019 round, the department put the 2% offer to staff.
The department told CSW that it was continuing to have discussions on pay with the Treasury, but it had yet to approve a request for greater pay flexibility.
Victoria Jones, national officer for DIT at the FDA union, said the lack of approval was disappointing, particularly in light of the extra work staff were undertaking to negotiate trade deals and get ready for Brexit. The offer comes a few months after the National Audit Office warned of staff shortages in the department, including a 20% shorfall in the section in charge of opening up overseas markets to UK markets after Brexit was 20% below capacity.
She said the 2% offer fell “below the expectations” of union members in the department, “who have been working non-stop to prepare for EU exit” and would push staff to leave the department.
An internal survey of DIT staff by the union found that two-thirds of members felt the pay offer had decreased their morale.
And two-thirds of those who responded to the survey on pay said they had “seriously considered” leaving the department in the last 12 years.
Jones said the situation was particularly galling as the Department for Exiting the European Union had been successful in securing an average pay rise of 7.6% for its staff for this year – with the highest awards reaching 11%.
“Our members in DIT will want to know why their contribution to Brexit isn’t being valued in a similar way,” Jones said.
The department has said it will continue to work with the FDA on its business case and to secure a better offer for next year, the union said.
The 2% offer was in line with the most recent delegated Treasury pay guidance to departments, which allowed for a increase of up to 2% of departmental pay bills. Departments could decide how to divide the cash between staff, but had to get Treasury approval for greater pay rises by submitting a business case.
A DIT spokesman told CSW: “The department greatly values its dedicated staff, who have delivered a huge amount this year and deserve recognition for their continued commitment to the government’s priorities – that is why we are continuing negotiations on our business case to secure the best possible pay outcome for our employees.
“In the meantime, we have moved swiftly to implement a pay award of 2% across the board, the maximum delegated pay award permitted under Civil Service guidelines, to ensure colleagues receive this money before Christmas."
The news comes after Jim Harra, interim permanent secretary at HM Revenue and Customs, told MPs that his department was in need of significant pay reform to address what he called a "crisis" in pay.
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