19th October 2018
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Report reveals 111 SIC workers are earning over £50,000, five times the Orkney figure

More than a hundred SIC employees earned salaries of £50,000 or more in the last financial year, almost five times the number of high earners in the same bracket at Orkney Islands Council.

A report before councillors this week showed 111 SIC workers belonged in a remuneration band exceeding £50,000 in 2012/13. In comparison, just 23 staff members in the Orkney local authority took home over £50,000 during the same period.

The findings also show a redundancy package of £204,000 to one individual in the same financial year. That pay-out will partly be covered by pension fund costs, but the figure still lies within the top possible bracket of so-called “exit packages”. The council has declined to reveal the name of the recipient, citing the Data Protection Act as the reason.

The wage statistics for Shetland were revealed in a report before members of the SIC audit and standards committee on Monday.
While the figures are considerably higher than Orkney’s, they do represent a drop from the previous financial year’s figure of 133.

Audit and standards committee Allison Duncan said the reduction reflected progress being made in ongoing “organisational reviews”, such as Ports for the Future.

“The remuneration report includes exit packages so depending on the timing of exits and factors such as length of service, will include employees whose salary is less than £50,000,” he said.

“Therefore while there are a number of staffing reviews taking place the remuneration report may show increases from year to year while the actual number of senior employees reduce.”

SIC political leader Gary Robinson insisted the figures would be skewed by ferry staff and pilot crews operating at Sella Ness.

“I think for a long time now our figures have been high compared with the likes of Orkney and the Western Isles, for the simple reason that we run ferry and towage services,” Mr Robinson said.

“The wages within those posts are very much in line with what’s paid in the industry for masters, mates, chief engineers and – in Shetland’s case – pilots as well. That does tend to push up the figures and the 111 that we speak of would be in those types of services.

“It is very much the case that there are some of these posts that we struggle to recruit for, and that’s an indication of the difficulties we have in training and maintaining staff, particularly on the marine side.

“The pay and conditions are agreed nationally as part of the joint negotiations, so we very much have to pay the going rate.

“That said, as a small authority serving a smaller than average number of people in terms of a mainland local authority, our pay levels in the main are lower. Our chief executive is among the lowest paid in the country, just by virtue of the fact that we are one of the smaller local authorities.”

Unison branch spokesman Brian Smith declined to comment on the pay levels, adding that some of his members may be among those in the top pay band.

During Monday’s committee meeting Amanda Westlake challenged performance and improvement adviser Jim MacLeod over sickness levels.

She raised concerns over statistics which showed non-teaching staff lost an average of 12.2 days through sickness in 2012/13. That represented a slight improvement on the 13 days recorded for 2011/12, but was no different from the previous two financial years.

Meanwhile her fellow Lerwick councillor Michael Stout wondered whether a measure of morale among SIC staff could be factored into the council’s sickness figures.

Mr Duncan told the meeting he believed the council could learn lessons from NHS Shetland’s sickness rate. The health authority recorded only 9.03 days’ sickness absence during 2012/13, representing a four per cent absence rate. That is down from the 10.98 days lost through sickness at the NHS in 2011/12.

After the meeting Mr MacLeod pointed to more up-to-date council figures which showed an improving trend. He said new statistics revealing the sickness percentage rate across the council had dropped from 4.4 per cent down to 3.6 per cent in the year from April 2012. The May-to-May figures showed a similar improvement, from 4.5 down to 3.2.

Mr Mcleod said: “I’m pretty confident that that trend will remain the same because we have put a lot of work into it.”

People may always be susceptible to bugs during the winter months, and Mr MacLeod told councillors sickness levels were seasonal. He said a “spike” in January this year represented a time when people were becoming infected with the winter vomiting bug, norovirus.

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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11 comments

  1. Why such a large difference between Orkney and Shetland. Orkney have marine pilots and staff. Weed out all the excess and cut salary cost at the top. The gravy train has too stop before the gravy runs out.

    Raymond Smith
    Kirkwall

    Reply
  2. Susan Coutts

    Having read this article and the comment above, I would like to say that it is unfair to compare salaries of Marine Staff, as is presented here, for the SIC and OIC as within SIC marine staff are employed by SIC but as, I understand it, some OIC marine staff are employed by companies wholly owned by OIC – so it is quite possible that these salaries are not reported in the same fashion as has been done for SIC. Maybe a little investigation into the companies owned by OIC and how comparable jobs/salaries are reported is required to get a better picture of the situation. As I am sure the OIC will also put money into these companies and official figures will show this but do these figures show the salaries being paid out on salaries etc. for each role covered within these companies. I may be completely wrong here but it is hard compare two or three different local authorities when the same or similar services are being delivered and/or funded in different ways.

    Susan Coutts
    Lerwick

    Reply
  3. I was at a social function recently where a tuggieman was telling everyone they got near £100,000 and they spent most of their time sitting at home and getting paid. Flea and Gary should be looking at that, it is not the industry norm and it isn’t fair to all the other SIC employees who don’t get paid under single status for sitting at home. Small wonder there is no profit. From Sullum it is all going to the men!

    Reply
  4. John Anderson

    I note the job currently advertised of Head Teacher on Foula (primary, couple of bairns) pays up to £50,000. Multiply that (more, for the bigger schools) by all the 30 odd schools Shetland supports, add the other top promoted teacher posts and you have a good third of these jobs. It’s not just tug men that are overpaid, protectionist and unionized to the teeth. I wonder if we could have a full list of the 111 post titles? No doubt that will breach data protection. I assume rules say there is no alternative but to put a ‘Head Teacher’ in Foula, but it is ridiculous.

    Reply
  5. Sandy McMillan

    Shetland Islands Council have the highest paid Manager per Department than any other local Authority, I have emailed Orkney, Aberdeen, also had friend and relatives in Dundee, Glasgow, who have researched the salaries in the other Scottish cities, there are none as highly paid as the SIC, Is there a reason why Shetland should be the highest paid.

    Reply
  6. Douglas Young

    Shocking.

    Reply
  7. john irvine

    How much do the essycart men get paid? I bet they do more work than all these top earners put together!

    Reply
  8. Marina Thomason

    @ John Anderson, teacher’s pay is set nationally. Four thousand pounds of the Head Teacher’s salary for Foula is the Distant Islands Allowance plus the Remote Island Allowance elements. There might only be a handful of pupils in Foula but the teacher will have to do a lot of work over and above what would be normally expected of a Head Teacher. I assume by your comments on here that you would be quite happy to see the remote isles “emptied”. Unfortunately I fear that some of our elected members might actually agree with you.

    Reply
  9. Re Susan Coutts response to my earlier comment re 50K+ SIC salaries. I have checked with one of my elected OIC council members and he assures me that all OIC staff – Marine, ferries, teachers etc are all included in figure quoted for Orkney.OIC had a cull on top and middle council management over 20months ago.
    Perhaps SIC should do the same!!!

    Raymond Smith
    Kirkwall

    Reply
  10. John Tulloch

    It has to be said, we’re quick enough to point to other external benchmarks like the cost per head of educating our kids versus that of other places.

    Reply
  11. David Spence

    Although it may be a mute point, but it does not surprise me that the gap between the rich and well off to this of the poorest in our society has grown larger under this awful vile Tory Party, who put profit, greed and money as their priority……and are hell bent of privatising state run services for their rich buddies (look after your own mentality – aka private companies) who will benefit via backdoor politics and backhands (but we will be lied to by them (vile tories) saying we are doing it to improve services and the quality of your life (for our rich buddies…..cough,cough)). As said previously ‘ The only good Tory is a ……….. ‘ and I vermantly stand by this.

    Reply

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