PATRICK HARVIE – Now is the time to crack down on public 'fat cats'

IN A previous column I wrote about the Scottish Government's Budget and its 1% cap on public sector pay increases.

Loading Comments

This is way below inflation and will mean even more overstretched household budgets.

But not in every household – because a few public sector workers are doing very nicely.

Over recent years some parts of the public sector have become just as unequal as big business, with minimum wages paid to outsourced workers, while a lucky few enjoy astonishing salaries.

This, apparently, is what "the market" demands, say some so-called experts.

Some of the highest salaries in the public sector are at Scottish Water, with several senior staff paid around £250,000.

Its last chief executive was on £380,000.

This week it has been revealed ScotRail is fast catching up with this.

Its managing director will be enjoying a pay rise of £54,000 this year, taking his total package of pay and perks to a third of a million pounds.

ScotRail, of course, is run by First Group, a private sector profit-driven company.

But it is operating a public sector franchise to run a public service.

The gap between high and low pay has grown incredibly wide in recent years –and it does not need to be this way.

Simply blaming "the market" as if it is a law of nature is nonsense. Markets are just the name we give to the overall effect of individual decisions.

Market conditions are set by the people making those decisions, and those who set pay levels for senior positions must take responsibility.

This inequality is shameful at any time, but even worse when the UK and Scottish Governments are squeezing the pay of the dedicated public sector workers that we all depend on to provide the services a decent society needs.

The minimum wage (currently £6.19 an hour if you are over 21) was an important step forward, and the Living Wage (now £7.20 for Glasgow City Council workers) is a vital next step.

But it is time we also looked at high pay and start to close the gap.

New appointments are coming at the top of Scottish Water and Creative Scotland, and there is a new ScotRail franchise coming soon.

So the Scottish Government should seize this moment to introduce maximum pay ratios between high and low pay in the public sector, and in companies delivering public services.

Maybe then the phrase "we're all in it together" will not ring so hollow.

Careers and Jobs

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on Evening Times on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.


Have you got a story?

Contact the news desk on 0141 302 6520 or email
A weekly round up of social highlights

A weekly round up of social highlights

Cat's Eyes on Glasgow

I try Glasgow’s new Italians Gusto and La Favorita




Gail’s Gab

Gail’s Gab

Gail Sheridan is a mother-of-one and wife to Tommy and she likes to get political with the hot topic of the week in her column Gail’s Gab.

Michelle McManus

Michelle McManus

Sussed in the City

I’ve taken on the role of the latest fairy book princess

Janice Bell

Janice Bell

You couldn’t make up half the stuff that happens to PA Janice Bell- some of the jams she gets herself into are worth a story or two.