FDA: Pay gap between COPFS and Scottish Government must close
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Tensions around Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) pay “may soon come to a head” warns the FDA, as the union’s campaign gathers momentum.
Created by the FDA’s COPFS section, the ‘Equal Value, Equal Worth’ campaign seeks to gain pay parity between lawyers and other professionals in this department, and those working for the Scottish Government.
According to the section, certain Scottish Government lawyers will be paid £93,000 more over a 7 year period than their COPFS counterparts. A similar proportionate gap persists across all pay grades.
This discrepancy has been labelled unfair by the section, who have pointed out that both sets of professionals work for the same chief legal office, the Lord Advocate. In 2019, the FDA submitted evidence to the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee to underscore the need to address the pay gap. The section is now focussing on securing an increase to the COPFS budget, and calling on Finance Secretary Derek Mackay to provide this in his forthcoming budget.
Speaking to the Daily Record, FDA National Officer Allan Sampson said that “there is an argument procurators fiscal are more public-facing, more publicly accountable, their job is extremely demanding, and they should be paid the same as lawyers for the Scottish Government.”
Sampson explained however that there are separate bargaining units, and over the past few years Scottish Government staff "have enjoyed increases higher than those working for COPFS."
“We have demanded that pay policy encompass the principle of greater coherence within the civil service sector," he continued, "and therefore allow us to address pay differentials.
“If the policy rules that out, it is difficult to see how any offer would be acceptable to our members in COPFS. Pressure is building, and things may come to a head in the early part of this year.”
Beyond the issue of unfairness, the pay gap could also impact the department as a whole. If COPFS are to recruit and retain skilled staff, the FDA section argues, “they must have salaries which are competitive if not with the private sector, then at least within government.”
These legal professionals have received the backing of the Sunday Mail, whose recent leader opinion piece stated that “in the case of COPFS lawyers an injustice has been allowed to develop and it should be remedied quickly rather than allowed to fester.”
The FDA COPFS section is set to step up their campaigning work in early 2020. If you would be interested in getting involved, get in touch with its secretary Fiona Eadie.