This Personnel Today news round-up includes news about:
- Public sector pay freeze likely
- Graduate applications outnumber vacancies 50:1
- Tube workers strike ban?
- Prevent unemployment Brown urges world leaders
- Royal Mail’s pension could close
- G20 police officer employed after vetting error
Chancellor Alistair Darling has failed to rule out a pay freeze for public sector workers, which could result in thousands of workers taking strike action.
Darling said wage levels, to be announced within weeks, would have to reflect the low level of inflation and be “fair” to private sector workers facing a recession-fuelled pay squeeze.
The comments came after the Audit Commission warned the public sector would need to save £5bn from the wage bill to help the economy recover from the downturn. Its chief executive Steve Bundrer said public sector workers could “tolerate” a pay freeze.
Local government employers are still in talks about this year’s pay deal. Unions rejected a 0.5% offer earlier this year.
Meanwhile, Conservative party leader David Cameron pledged to slash the number of unelected quangos should his party come to power. Earlier this year shadow skills secretary David Willets told Personnel Today he would reduce the number of quangos to three per sector.
There are 50 graduate applications for every vacancy, a biannual survey by the Association of Graduate Recruiters has found.
One in eight of the 226 organisations surveyed had more than 150 applications for each graduate job this year, with the average being 49 – compared to 30 last year.
Investment banking, IT, construction and engineering were the hardest hit sectors.
The report said: “Retention, which has previously been a major challenge for employers of graduates, has predictably been less of an issue this year as flighty Generation Y has its wings clipped by the recession.”
The survey also revealed the average starting salary had stalled at £25,000.
More than 40% of Londoners believe Tube workers should not be allowed to strike, a poll has revealed. The Metro-Harris poll showed last month’s strikes galvanised the opinion of the capital’s residents, with just 23% believing any worker had the right to down tools. Just one in 10 supported the Underground workers’ action over job cuts, while 41% said transport staff should be banned from striking.
The poll was carried out in the last week of June, asking more than 1,100 people how they felt about the Tube’s industrial action.
Gordon Brown is expected to urge world leaders to do more to help the economy or be confronted with “avoidable unemployment for years to come”.
Ahead of the G8 summit on Wednesday, the prime minister is due to sound a warning in France today when he meets with president Sarkozy.
Brown will cite soaring oil prices, a 10% drop in trade and the failure of banks to start lending again as three major risks to the global economy. “If we do not take the necessary action now to strengthen the world economy and put in place the conditions for sustainable growth, we will be confronted with avoidable unemployment for years to come,” he is expected to say.
Meanwhile the CBI has urged the government to do more to help stem the wave of job losses, including a scheme aimed at providing an alternative to redundancy.
The business group warned unemployment would soar to 3.03 million by next summer unless the government took decisive action, including: a scheme to give redundant workers double the amount of Jobseekers Allowance for the first six months; and a review of the 90-day consultation period where 100 or more workers face job cuts, as it “prolongs uncertainty”.
The Royal Mail’s could close its pension to existing members after legislation to part-privatise the postal service was shelved.
The Times reported that chairman Jane Newell is considering shutting the scheme for postal workers, forcing them to join a new retirement pot with far less lucrative benefits. The decision would have to be approved by the group’s management.
Such a move could trigger more strikes, however. Members of the Communication and Workers Union in London are already set to strike on three days this week over modernisation plans, including job cuts.
More than 140 Labour backbenchers opposed the plans to part-privatise Royal Mail, although if the government had been able to attract £3bn for the stake it would have taken responsibility for the pension pot, which now has a defecit of £3.4bn.
The G20 police officer questioned over the death of Ian Tomlinson was only allowed into the Metropolitan Police force as a result of a vetting error, it has emerged.
The officer had retired sick from the Metropolitan Police with an unresolved disciplinary charge, but because the issue was not raised during recruitment he was able to join Surrey Police and later re-join the Met.
Tomlinson, 47, died after he was pushed and hit by the officer during the G20 protests in London in April.
The officer retired sick after being involved in a road accident where he was accused of using too much force against a driver. He is now being questioned over manslaughter charges.