Staff strike over pay

Wilmslow Express - - CHARITY ROUND-UP - KAREN BRIT­TON karen.brit­ton@men­media.co.uk @KarenBrit­ton1

IN­FOR­MA­TION watch­dog staff went on strike af­ter lodg­ing a com­plaint with their own em­ployer for fail­ing to an­swer ques­tions over pay.

Staff at the In­for­ma­tion Com­mis­sioner’s Of­fice (ICO) took part in a two­day strike last week.

The mem­bers from the Public and Com­mer­cial Ser­vices (PCS) union protested out­side the of­fice on Wa­ter Lane in Wilm­slow.

They say wages are well be­low that of equiv­a­lent jobs in the civil ser­vice, of­ten by sev­eral thou­sand pounds a year.

Claire Jones, PCS industrial of­fi­cer, said: “Pay at the ICO has stag­nated be­cause of Ge­orge Os­borne’s cuts, but the most highly paid ex­ec­u­tives have had huge in­creases.

“It is grossly un­fair that the ma­jor­ity of staff who work hard to im­prove ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion for ev­ery­one are be­ing de­nied a de­cent pay rise.”

Work­ers at the ICO are re­spon­si­ble for the en­force­ment of the Data Pro­tec­tion Act and for Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion which re­quires or­gan­i­sa­tions to dis­close in­for­ma­tion to the public.

Last month marked the 10th an­niver­sary of the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act com­ing into force.

The strike came af­ter work­ers lodged a com­plaint with their em­ployer for fail­ing to an­swer ques­tions over pay af­ter they sub­mit­ted a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quest of their own. The union wanted an­swers on pay awards given to three se­nior ex­ec­u­tives who were awarded an av­er­age in­crease of 11 per cent.

They asked for in­forma- tion re­lat­ing to how the ex­ec­u­tive pay award was de­cided.

But they were told there were no records avail­able so they filed an of­fi­cial com­plaint with the ICO which is obliged to in­ves­ti­gate and make a rul­ing.

PCS gen­eral sec­re­tary Mark Ser­wotka said it was ‘deeply ironic’ that mem­bers had to com­plain to their bosses about its re­fusal to re­lease this in­for­ma­tion.

An ICO spokesman said: “The ICO has a gen­eral duty to in­ves­ti­gate com­plaints from mem­bers of the public who be­lieve that an author­ity has failed to re­spond cor­rectly to a re­quest for in­for­ma­tion.

“That duty in­cludes han­dling cases where the ICO is it­self the public author­ity. A com­plaint of this type will be dealt with in the same way as any other, with safe­guards in place to en­sure an in­de­pen­dent de­ci­sion.”

Matt Rat­cliffe

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Mem­bers strike out­side Wy­cliffe House, Wa­ter Lane over pay and con­di­tions

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