UNISON, Scotland’s largest trade union, today responded to the publication of the David Hume Institute’s paper ‘Public Sector Remuneration in Scotland’.
The paper claims to ‘start the process of careful consideration based on informed, rigorous and objective analysis’. However, UNISON says the paper falls somewhat short of this objective.
The union criticised the report for repeating, uncritically, many well worn neo-liberal economic myths about public sector pay and the private sector. There is little acknowledgement that most expenditure cuts in Scotland have been achieved by cutting the real wages and jobs of public service workers who did not cause the crisis. There is also virtually no analysis of the importance of pay – particularly the low paid – on local economies and the positive role public policy in this area can play.
While the paper does include some objective analysis from contributors like Alastair Hatchett of IDS, there is little effort at balance. In addition to the one-sided economic perspective, there are three papers by employers – including two predictable rants from the CBI and IoD. There is a veneer of balance in the excellent paper from the STUC’s Stephen Boyd but there is no contribution from anyone actually engaged in negotiating public sector remuneration in Scotland, who could have corrected the many misconceptions and reflected on current developments.
Dave Watson, UNISON Scotland’s Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, said:
“The report describes better pay for low paid workers as an ‘overpayment’ and suggests staff are ‘overpaid’. This is linked to the extraordinary and misleading claim that the public sector ‘pay freeze’ does not apply to lower paid workers. This will comes as something of a surprise to thousands of low paid public service workers whose living standards are being slashed.
“While there is a case for considering how public sector remuneration is developed – particularly in the context of constitutional change – the David Hume Institute, with its right wing ideological position, is not the body to offer an objective platform for such a debate.”