Outrage over Highways England executive pay

27 Nov 2018

PCS has expressed outrage that our members are being punished with a de-facto 1% pay cap when top executives are taking home well over £100,000 and increases well above inflation.  

Highways England is imposing a 1% pay offer on its staff from 1 January 2019. This comes after staff have faced a three year pay freeze followed by and a seven year one percent pay cap. Senior staff meanwhile have enjoyed increasingly high pay increases.

The agency, which is a government-owned company, has continued the de-facto 1% pay cap, despite not being subject to the pay remit guidance which ties government departments to 1.5% pay cap.

This covers all pay band 1 to 8 staff (below the traditional senior civil service grades) which represents the vast majority of the workforce.

We are impressing on Highways England the need to negotiate a fair rise with the union and examine their whole approach by paying hard working staff properly. We will be looking at all options including industrial action.

Broken promises

The pay policy runs contrary to promises made to staff. Before civil servants working for the Highways Agency were forcibly transferred from the civil service into Highways England, they were told by senior management that one of the benefits would be flexibility on pay, in other words they would no longer be subject to public sector pay caps. To make matters worse this latest offer means that these staff are further away than ever removed from pay harmonisation to colleagues elsewhere in the Department for Transport who are now receiving a 1.5% pay rise.

Pay inequality

On top of the derisory pay offer, FOI requests from PCS have revealed a huge increase in senior grade numbers earning above £100k, the vast majority male, and not subject to the pay cap. 

The FoI request showed that as of 1 January 2018, the total number of senior permanent staff paid above £100,000 was 48. Of these, only eight were female. This compares to 26 (4 female) in 2017 and 12 (2 female) in 2016.

The annual report shows that Highways England’s chief executive officer Jim O’Sullivan now earns more than £400,000. In fact, £1,103 a day. That’s up from £366,868 last year; a rise of 9.7%.

In the meantime, more and more senior managers have been recruited at over £100,000; we know that £4.4 million of extra funding has been found since 2013 when the privatisation of HA was first proposed.

The chairman of the board is paid £130,000 for attending 34 meetings a year; £3,823 a meeting.

By 2 March, the CEO will have earned more since New Year than someone in pay band 8 at the top of the salary range will earn all year, having passed everyone in pay bands 1-4 on 30 January. 

Get involved now in the campaign for better pay. Email midsbargaining@pcs.org.uk for further information.

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