The union says that government pay policy is restricting the Met Office’s ability to:
- close the equal pay gap
- recruit and retain the specialist staff it needs
- match pay rates in the private sector (the Met Office is 20-30% behind).
According to the Office for National Statistics, the average national pay gap is 9.4%. The Met Office carried out an equal pay audit in 2014-2015 which showed the gap at 10.7%.
Prospect says the Met Office is a successful, efficient and growing business, returning profit to the government. It provides a benefit multiplier on public spending rarely equalled elsewhere. It can afford to reward people properly but is not permitted that freedom.
Prospect negotiator Helen Stevens said: “Prospect members do not take this action lightly. They are loyal and committed to their work but they believe that the current pay policy is damaging the Met Office and its ability to serve its customers.”
Stevens pointed out that government talks the talk on fair and equal pay, but does not walk the walk.
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, urged successful business to pay their employees more in a speech to the British Chamber of Commerce in 2015. [https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/british-chambers-of-commerce-pm-speech]
Earlier this month, the women and equalities minister, Nicky Morgan, announced government plans to get rid of the equal pay gap [https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/mandatory-gender-pay-gap-reporting].
“The Met Office modernised its pay system in 2009, but the system has never been allowed to work. The impact is that women are being discriminated against and the Met Office is unable to recruit specialist staff.
“The Met Office needs these people to maintain the public weather service and realise the considerable benefits of the investment in the Met Office’s new super computer.
“The pay problems at the Met Office would not cost the taxpayer a penny extra to resolve. Prospect is simply calling on the government to give the Met Office the freedom to manage its own paybill,” added Stevens.
Why Prospect members are taking action
“More than five years of pay restraint is taking its toll on our lives, our families and our morale at home and at work. We are demonstrably undervalued compared to private sector scientists, but still we slave away on meagre wages on one of the most important issues of our age.”
“To have a vocation is fine – but you need fair pay to keep your family well.”
“When we work hard to make our employer efficient and world-class, why can we not get a fair part of the reward? Is that not what this government says is fair and essential?”
“British pride in meteorological science is at risk due to government's insufficient investment in human resources.”
For more information, please contact:
Helen Stevens: firstname.lastname@example.org; 0771 351 1706
Gordon Hutchinson, Prospect branch secretary: 07801 279 975