COMMENT: '˜Post truth' politics may have won the day in the US - but County Hall pay debacle shows civil servants are at it too
In recent weeks, analysts have bandied around 'post-truth politics' as a slogan to describe Donald Trump's unexpected rise to the White House , writes chief reporter Paul Lynch.
The new president-elect promised to build a wall on the border of Mexico, which we all know will never happen. Nevertheless the emotive brag won the billionaire tycoon millions of votes.
But this week Northamptonshire County Council’s own version of post-truth politics has built a wall between executives and its 4,000 staff.
Workers were told they would be given a £600 pay-rise if managers rated them as good at their job. It was a carrot still being dangled right up until last month.
And in a bid to offset the £600-per-year parking charge the workforce will find themselves lumbered with when the council moves into its new Angel Street headquarters, around 60 per cent of them grabbed at the incentive.
The workforce raised their game and worked their socks off.
But, last week, simply too many had achieved the accolade - just over 60 per cent - and the pay-rise was withdrawnas the council had only projected for around half of that.
Kevin Standishay, of Unison, says the mood at County Hall is at a new low.
“Some people have already spent that money,” he said. “People are angry, really angry. They feel like they’ve been ripped off.”
One such worker said he has had to cancel a holiday next year. Right up until a few days ago, he was told he had the rating to get the pay increase and went to book his flights.
”We just feel like they’re ripping the vest from underneath our shirts,” he said. “There is a total lack of confidence in anything they say now. Anything they promise is basically rubbish.”
It’s a rough estimate, but the cost of implementing the pay rise originally budgeted for would have been around £500,000. Some feel that could have been spread around those who hit target.
But what really hurt workers was a line in Mr Blantern’s letter. The bit (one woman described as a ‘threat’) saying five percent of staff across all departments would be made redundant if the increase was implemented, has not gone down well.
”It’s a smokescreen,” the woman said. “I don’t think they have done their figures properly. They are just trying to fob us off.”
Unison says there is a feeling among workers that the lower paid are paying the price for the inadequacies of their executive counterparts – whose remuneration packages collectively rose by £50,000 in 2015-16. Yet this year KPMG ranked their ability to manage council finances among the worst in the country.
Unison has reported an unprecedented rise in membership from county council staff. This week, it’s easy to see why.