Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles is never one to mince his words. He recently berated the size of salaries of senior town hall chiefs saying:
"The gravy trains of Local Government must stop immediately. People who go into public service should not expect to earn more than £100,000. I believe people should go into public service, to serve, not to squeeze every penny they can out of the taxpayer."
And Eric has got a good point. To address the deficit and sort out the financial mess that Labour bequeathed, we are all having to tighten our belts and budgets are having to be cut. One of the first things the Coalition Government did was to cut ministerial salaries by 5% and freeze them at this level over the course of this five year Parliament. Strict new procedures were introduced in respect of public sector salaries in excess of the Prime Minister's pay. I think this sent an important signal from the top of government about public sector pay restraint.
Of course employment law rightly puts restrictions on the ability to cut an employees wages. But in these extremely difficult times senior managers in local councils and elsewhere might consider agreeing to a voluntary cut in pay and conditions as Ministers have done. Whilst they can't be compelled, they could at least consider and signal their own recognition that we really are 'all in this together'.