What's Wrong with Performance-Related Pay?

Posted in Tubeworker's blog on Sun, 05/02/2006 - 12:49,

Employee Relations Director Gerry Duffy has given a few hints as to what might be coming our way in the upcoming pay negotiations.

"We would like to see progress in rewarding performance", says Gerry, signalling of the spectre of performance-related pay (PRP). A thoroughly objectionable proposals, since:

  • As management frequently tell us, running a railway relies on teamwork - so whose performance gets rewarded? Managers currently have an element of PRP: so *we* perform and *they* get a bonus.
  • How and by whom is 'performance' going to be judged? It is impossible without a large degree of subjective judgement by managers, which means that they can reward the faces they like.
  • Performance measures reckoned to be 'objective', such as MSS scores etc, are hugely affected by factors other than the performance of the individual worker, or even the staff team as a whole.
  • PRP can become a mechanism for punishing not just 'poor performers', but people who stand up for themselves against management.
  • A person's performance at work can be affected by issues such as health or domestic issues. Staff need help with these things, not the threat of losing money.
  • PRP takes away our pay equality at work. Instead of each grade all taking home the same amount of money, people will be looking over each others' shoulders as to how much PRP different people are getting, encouraging resentment and bitching, turning workers against each other instead of uniting against (mis)management.
  • People who are able to do 'that bit extra' do best out of PRP. This is often people without responsibilites away from the job. That's why the experience in other jobs with PRP is that women do worse out of it.
  • Perhaps we could accept 'performance-related pay' if we had performance-related mortgages and bills! But we don't. Our costs of living are the same. We're with Karl Marx on this one: from each according to ability, to each according to need.

PS. Here is an interesting article from a few years back about performance-related pay for teachers.

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