Editor’s blog: Cutbacks and pay rises

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It was almost as if the recent ERDF Convergence scare was just a dream and never really happened.

Because just a week after it appeared as if the programme was being cancelled, came the news from the South West RDA of the £30 million Environment and Sustainability Institute to be built at the Tremough campus in Penryn, with £23 million of Convergence money.

According to the RDA, the project will deliver “at least 800 high-value jobs in energy and clean technologies and related industries”.

Government and public sector cutbacks are still very real, of course, which Cornwall Council chief executive Kevin Lavery knows only too well.

The public sector in Cornwall is particularly large, and cutbacks are likely to be felt by many in the local private sector as well. “If we catch a cold, the Cornish economy catches a cold,” Lavery told us in an exclusive audio interview featured on Business Cornwall this week.

Against this backdrop of pay freezes and cutbacks, many commentators are predicting a summer of discontent.

One bunch unlikely to be striking, however, are BT, following the pay deal it agreed a couple of weeks ago with its workers that the Communication Workers Union described as “fantastic”.

Whether this will set some kind of precedent and how public sector workers will react, time will tell.

Many people were just wondering how on earth BT could afford such a generous pay rise in the first place.

Then came the news this week that it is putting call charges up 10% for 12.5 million of its users.

Not that the two events are connected, of course.

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