HSE staff to take industrial action over pay


HSE staff to take industrial action over pay

The union representing inspectors, scientists and other professionals in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is to ballot its members on industrial action following HSE management’s decision to turn down pay claims for 2003.

On behalf of 1,750 members in HSE, Prospect will be balloted on a range of industrial action measures. This will include selective stoppages, working to rule, including non-compliance with much of HSE’s internal bureaucracy, and mass ‘going to work days’ in offices where there is insufficient space for the staff based there.

Richard Hardy, Prospect negotiator, said: "We hope this will illustrate that there is money available in HSE for idiotic projects and bureaucracy but not for a living wage increase.

"We have been in talks with the executive since May 2003 and management know our position. We have made it clear that our members are not prepared to make any further compromises when the deal they are being offered amounts to a pay cut over the next three years."

The union is seeking a 2.6% pay increase but the offer currently tabled by the executive means that the most experienced staff in the organisation will see their pay grow by only 0.5% a year until 2006, compared with a headline rate of inflation of 2.8%. Not only does this devalue their pay and pensions, but the unions warn it will have a knock-on effect on the safety of the UK workforce.

"This is not just about levels of pay but about HSE’s ability to maintain an experienced and committed workforce in order to deliver safe workplaces for all," said Hardy. "HSE has already identified that its staff are leaving because they cannot reach the top of their pay scales. By effectively freezing the pay of those who are at the top there is a real danger that HSE’s most experienced staff will seek employment elsewhere."

The union’s claim for a 2.6% increase is affordable within the 2003 guidance of 3.7% set by the Treasury. The decision to ballot members reflects the frustration felt by the unions after HSE refused to continue pay talks without links to further concessions. The results of the ballot will be known by March 1.