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CHIEFS FACE TOUGH PAY TALKS AFTER AUDIT COMMISSION REPORT

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Employers are planning to cite the Audit Commission's report on local government pay management in the arbitration ...
Employers are planning to cite the Audit Commission's report on local government pay management in the arbitration process with chief officers' union MPO.

The report, Paying the Piper, details of which LGC leaked last week, suggests many chief officers are well paid in comparison with other employees and even overpaid in current market conditions.

No date has yet been set for the arbitration hearing, at which MPO will argue that chief officers should receive a pay rise bigger than that awarded to the majority of local authority employees.

At the end of last year, chief executives settled for 4.3% over 21 months, while administrative, professional, technical and clerical employees agreed a 4.5% wage increase over the same period (LGC, 21and October 18 November 1994). According to MPO, a realistic offer for chief officers would be at least 2.5% for 1994-95, with a commitment to review scales for implementation in July 1995.

The commission report, however, reveals that more than 30% of finance chief officers and more than 20% of technical and housing chief officers receive salaries above the ranges in the Joint National Council agreement.

'Some of these higher salaries may reflect the use of fixed-term contracts,' the commission says in the report. 'But some salaries which were increased during the heated recruitment market of the late 1980s now look generous in current market conditions.'

The report also notes that senior salaries have risen more in councils which have used consultants: 'Salary levels for middle and senior staff in these authorities have increased often to a position at or above the market median.'

The commission also reports that the number of staff at principal officer level and above increased by 60% between 1987 and 1993, when the number of manual workers fell by 25% and the number of teachers by 10%.

'The pay bill went up nearly twice as quickly as pay rates between 1987 and 1993 because of employing a higher proportion of more senior staff,' the commission says.

MPO general secretary Graham Corless said the report would add weight to the employers' case, but declined to comment in detail.

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