Surveyors and specialist staff at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency have secured the second known civil service deal to shatter HM Treasury’s 1% pay ceiling.
The agreement, which MCA employees voted overwhelmingly to accept last week, is worth a minimum of 2% and up to 20% for some marine surveyors.
While the agreement breaches the 1% cap on civil service annual pay rises imposed by then-chancellor George Osborne in 2010, it comes in return for more flexible working patterns and deployment changes springing from the closure of six regional offices.
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Union Prospect, which represents professionals such as scientists and engineers in the civil service, said the biggest proportionate winners from the new package would be new recruits to the agency who would benefit from increases in the basic pay scales for surveyors.
Prospect said the Treasury had agreed to the package on the basis that the agency’s survey and inspection operations had to undergo “genuine transformational change”, and that the deal must be “cost neutral over the course of the parliament”.
The deal follows the so-called “Employee Deal” struck between the Department for Work and Pensions and HM Treasury offering staff at lower grades rises ranging from just over the current cap to increases worth 20% over four years.
In return, DWP staff ranked from administrative assistant through to higher executive officer level – many of whom would work in contact centres or JobCentre Plus offices – are expected to agree to extended hours and Saturday working.
Prospect said its deal gave MCA staff pay parity with marine accident investigators and would go some way to addressing chronic pay and retention problems.
Negotiator John Ferrett said the union had a recognised that the MCA needed greater flexibility from its members because of the current shortage of marine surveyors and the “unevenness and unpredictability” of workloads.
“We agreed to a limited amount of deployment away from surveyors’ designated places of work in return for an allowance,” he told CSW.
“The new structure is based on resourcing in five years, so there will be more pressure on existing experienced staff over the short-term to make up the shortfall in marine surveyors.
“This campaign has, at times, involved industrial action, including strikes, and individual decisions not to volunteer for out-of-hours working.
“There have been many frustrations along the way, not least an interminable delay before the Treasury agreed significant increases in remuneration.”
Ferrett added that an increase in fees would also be part of the “cost neutral” agreement with the Treasury.