HR news today: secret police pay deals; public sector pay freeze; recession update; dinner lady suspended over ‘bullying’

This Personnel Today news round-up includes:

  • Secret pay deals net police chiefs thousands
  • David Cameron rules out public sector pay freeze
  • Man left to die as paramedic conducted a 16-minute risk assessment
  • BCC worst of the recession is over
  • National Express worker highlights safety concerns
  • Dinner lady suspended for tackling bullying

Top police officers have been awarded secret pay deals

Top police chiefs are being awarded hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of “off-book payments” on top of their declared salaries.

The secret incentives include generous relocation packages, private school fees, family cars, satellite TV, home security and “lifestyle coaching”.

One chief constable, Sean Price of the Cleveland force, was awarded a £50,000 retention package and a £24,000 “honorarium”, taking his total income last year to over £200,000.

Meanwhile Norman Bettison, West Yorkshire’s chief constable, receives a “unique package” worth about £55,000 a year.

The deals are negotiated outside national pay agreements and details are not generally made public.

But Stephen Bett, the chairman of Norfolk Police Authority, said the payments were necessary to retain senior police officers.

He said: “If chief executives of district councils, with very limited direct public accountability, are paid £120,000 a year, what would attract anyone to be a chief constable of Norfolk, with all his direct accountability, for £129,000 per year?”

It emerged yesterday the police officer questioned over the death of Ian Tomlinson was only allowed into the Met Police following a vetting error.

Times | Telegraph | Mail | Guardian

Conservatives will not freeze public sector pay

David Cameron has said he will not freeze public sector pay if the Conservatives win the next general election.

The Tory leader said while pay settlements for public sector workers would need to be “much tighter” as public finances were rebuilt, he insisted the Conservatives would retain the existing system, with pay awards being set by the public pay review bodies.

Meanwhile Brendan Barber, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, warned of a “very strong reaction” if the government attempted to “punish” public sector workers for the failings of the private sector.

He said: “The idea that because the private sector has been facing such tough times we have almost got to punish the public service workers to ensure an equality of misery is absolutely wrong.”

Cameron and Barber’s comments come after Alistair Darling said he could not rule out a blanket pay freeze for public sector workers.

The chancellor has now said three-year pay deals negotiated with the police, nurses and teachers which end in 2010-11 would not be renewed.

The row over public sector pay erupted after the Audit Commission warned that the sector needed 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.

Mail | Times

Man left to die as paramedic does risk assessment outside his house

A man has died after a breakdown in communication between emergency services staff meant he was left for 16-minutes while a paramedic conducted a risk assessment of his house.

Roy Adams called 999 after feeling chest pains and was told by the operator to leave his door open to allow the paramedic access. But when the ambulance arrived the paramedic suspected the property had been burgled and waited for police backup before entering to treat the patient.

Adams died on the way to the hospital and his family are now planning to sue the London Ambulance Service.

The London Ambulance Service has said it is investigating the incident. A spokesman for the service said: “We have a duty of care to treat patients but we also have to look after our staff.”

Mail | Times

BCC urges government to support businesses as they recover from recession

The British Chambers of Commerce’s (BCC) latest economic survey has found the worst of the recession is over but the body warned the economy could crash again unless the government takes steps to sustain recovery.

David Frost, BCC director general, said it was good that confidence was improving, but he added it was vital that this confidence was encouraged.

He said: “The government needs to think long and hard about its policies on taxation and red tape, which threaten to stifle growth and employment.”

Frost added that plans to increase National Insurance contributions was “nothing more than a tax on jobs” and should be abandoned.

He also warned against the government using signs of improvement in the economy as an excuse “to start increasing business tax as a remedy for the ill health of the nation’s finances”.

“Risking any fragile gains would be a huge mistake,” he added.


National Express worker warns government of ‘accident waiting to happen’

A National Express employee has told the government that reduced maintenance checks due to staffing pressures on the East Coast Mainline would lead to a serious accident.

The worker told his constituency MP and junior transport minister Paul Clark that maintenance cuts meant some trains were operating with defective brakes, while passengers had become ill after drinking coffee on trains where staff had failed to removed cleaning fluid from the coffee machines.

In a letter to National Express, Clark wrote: “Increasing cuts in staff combined with an increasing pressure to ensure that trains run safely has resulted in fears among staff that a major accident is ‘just around the corner’.”

National Express said: “Our safety standards continue to be and always have been of the highest order. The letter from Paul Clark on behalf of an anonymous constituent in May was addressed, and the allegations unfounded. The government has not raised any safety concerns with us, nor does it have any reason to.”

Last week Lord Adonis announced that the East Coast Mainline would be re-nationalised after National Express failed to pay the £1.4bn owed to the government for the franchise.


Dinner lady suspended for trying to stop bullying

A school dinner lady has been suspended after she witnessed a girl being tied up and whipped with a skipping rope, and reported the incident to the child’s parents.

Carol Hill dragged four boys away from Chloe David to stop them attacking her, after they had tied her to a fence.

Later that day Hill bumped into the girl’s parents and spoke to them about the attack. The girl’s parents had been informed by the school that an incident had occurred but had not been told any of the details of the attack.

Hill has now been suspended from Great Tey Primary School, near Colchester in Essex for breaching pupil confidentiality.


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