Letter: Divide-and-rule pay policy

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The Independent Online
YOUR article "Please sir, can I have some more?" (Real Life, 28 January) was illuminating about the nonsensical situations that arise under a performance pay regime. It did not, however, question the fundamental motivation for such schemes.

The most important aspect of performance-related pay is that it is used by employers to suppress pay rates and to set employees in unnecessary competition against each other. This accounts for some of the insecurity felt by the increasing number of people affected by such schemes and the resulting low morale.

For those of us in organisations where the majority are still represented by a recognised trade union there is a collective response to this issue. This year my union has put in a claim for an across-the-board pay rise in the face of a performance-related pay scheme that has operated for the last three years. For a large number of people doing a perfectly good job this scheme has resulted in them receiving no consolidated pay rise at all; a pay cut in real terms. For anyone appointed low on the pay scales there is no longer any prospect of moving up the scales as their experience increases.

The success of the claim will depend on how far union members are prepared to act against your (apparent) advice that they should be concerned only with their own material welfare. In a performance pay scheme such as ours any improvement in an individual's situation is at the expense of their colleagues, as the budget available is fixed.

Megan Davies