The commission has recently drafted in skilled experts in areas such as communications to boost the regulator's performance.
Darren Jones, PCS branch secretary at the commission's Liverpool office, said 31 out of 52 staff recruited in the past year had been paid above the normal starting salary. He told the commission's open board meeting in Liverpool last week that some new staff had been paid more than their managers, while existing staff faced below-inflation pay rises. The PCS represents about 300 of the commission's 470 staff.
Jones said PCS members in the commission's four offices discussed the issue last week. "There was a feeling that senior management were treating long-standing and loyal staff with utter contempt," he said. The PCS would support any individual grievances, he added.
Dame Suzi Leather, chair of the commission, said some excessive salary awards had been made after a "lapse in procedure in the Liverpool office" that would not be repeated. But she emphasised that flexible pay scales were necessary, and many existing staff appreciated the strengths of the new staff.
Leather said it was necessary to recruit staff with new skills, such as Sam Brierley, the new head of publishing, who has drawn up a radical plan to reorganise the regulator's publishing strategy since joining its Taunton office three months ago.
Board member Simon Jones said he feared Brierley's plans to create an in-house design bureau of skilled staff would make it a target for headhunters.
- The commission will direct more resources to online publishing to save money and because the trend is for people to use the internet
- It will reorganise the content of its website around users' needs, rather than commission structures
- A user survey will be carried out
- Email bulletins will alert users to relevant new content
- Old content will be removed
- Most documents will be printed only on demand to save costs
- Documents in low demand will be printed in-house. These include Welsh translations, 70 per cent of which are never requested and only three of which are requested more than 20 times a year
- Brierley said this would mean slower response times to requests for hard copies, but "instant gratification" would remain free on the web.