Pay negotiations in several organisations have resulted in staff taking strike action after rejecting their employers’ offers.
Last month, workers at bus operator Metroline held two one-day strikes after members of the Transport and General Workers’ union (T&G) rejected the company’s 5% pay offer. Instead, the union has demanded a 6% pay increase. Negotiations were still continuing at the time of going to press.
Sean O’Shea, chief operating officer at Metroline, said: “Pay for our drivers has increased by 50% in five years. [5%] is a fair offer. [The union] is asking for more than the company can afford.”
Average salaries for Metroline drivers are £25,500, which can rise to £28,500 with overtime.
T&G has also protested outside offices in the City of London to demand better wages for cleaners. One organisation targeted was Goldman Sachs, which has an equity stake in cleaning contracting firm ISS.
Rebecca Nelson, a spokeswoman for Goldman Sachs, said that while the firm supported the concept of the living wage, it was not responsible for salaries at ISS.
T&G members at car manufacturer Jaguar, meanwhile, were still involved in pay negotiations as Employee Benefits went to press, after rejecting a 4% pay offer, despite this receiving union backing.
Ken Mulkearn, editor of Incomes Data Services’ Pay Report, said increasing inflation was likely to have a large impact on pay negotiations, because this is growing at a faster rate than most pay increases.
At the opposite end of the pay scale, top City deal makers can expect to receive bonuses of up to £5.5m this winter, with payouts predicted to be up 25% on last year’s awards, according to recruitment firm Morgan McKinley. It estimated that the average salary for City workers now stands at £48,486.
Mulkearn added incentive pay alone for male City workers now outstrips the national average salary for men.
Peter Christie, director of reward consulting at Hay Group, said variable pay set City workers apart due to the favourable market for financial services.
Duncan Brown, assistant director general at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) explained that the sector is unusually performance geared. “There’s quite a lot of evidence that in bad times you get poor pay.”
In October, The Retail Price Index rose to an eight-year high of 3.7%. But according to the quarterly CIPD/KPMG Labour market outlook survey, published last month, just 15% of bosses surveyed expected to lift pay by more than 3.5%, with most [58%] planning to increase pay by between 2% and 3%.
The CIPD/KPMG report also showed that the growth in mean UK wages is set to dip below the cost of living, highlighting the disparity in reward levels between the City and elsewhere.
The much-publicised payouts for City workers may yet be the cause of further tension between employers which are keen to reward top performers and trade unions interested in protecting the interests of lower-paid staff.