Ministerial U-turn on NI Water Chief Executive’s terms

After his very well publicised threat to resign, the acting Chief Executive at Northern Ireland Water, Trevor Haslett, appears to have got what he wanted – a £20,000 pay rise [and a two year contract? – Ed].  From the BBC report

A spokeswoman for the Department for Regional Development confirmed the deal.

“Northern Ireland Water needs leadership and stability,” she said.

“Trevor Haslett has demonstrated that he is the best person to lead NI Water through the winter that is almost upon us and beyond.

“The package proposed by the board of NI Water has been approved but will not be paid until after the winter period. A significant element is subject to a satisfactory performance over the winter.”

The length of the contract hasn’t been confirmed yet.  But if it’s for the two years requested, then those would be the same terms that the NI Minister for Regional Development, and/or the Finance Minister, reportedly rejected previously [see indent analysis].

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  • Michael Shilliday

    Headline is a bit strong. You take as cast iron fact what Fitzpatrick qualifies.

  • Mick Fealty

    Michael have a read of the back links to get a reliable fix on Danny’s previous position…

  • Pete Baker

    Michael

    He doesn’t qualify the terms requested. And other reports confirm that an offer was previously made by the NI Water Board which Haslett accepted.

    But it, evidently, didn’t get approval somewhere further up the chain of command…

  • Michael Shilliday

    Not everyone has the time or inclination to wade through Pete’s particular brand of link fetish. What he does appear to point to is the following:

    “Although the board at NI Water were happy to approve such changes, it appears that Stormont ministers overruled them.”

    Which is a qualified statement.

  • Pete Baker

    Mick

    I think you may have this 2 Nov BBC report in mind

    The Regional Development Minister, Danny Kennedy, has thanked Mr Haslett for his service.

    “I’m sorry to hear of this news, and wish to thank Trevor for the role that he has played. I will be consulting NI Water on this matter,” he said.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Seems a reasonable statement to make when someone makes their resignation public, even if they don’t really mean it. You’re taking it on insinuation that the new terms were rejected by anyone on the shareholder side, it could very well have been delay, or even just not out of the negotiation yet. Which makes the u-turn headline stronger than the facts allow.

  • thethoughtfulone

    I’m a bit unsure what way to take this. On one hand someone getting £130k a year should be happy enough with needing another 20. On t’other hand, he’s still getting less than those before him who made a right balls of it and if he is getting somewhere with NIW you could argue that previous screw-ups weren’t his fault so why should he suffer for them. Also I’m quite sure this still doesn’t make him one of NI’s highest public sector earners or in the UK utilities sector, both of which are comparable, so again it’s hard to argue against.

    Bottom line is I s’pose, if he manages to avoid any monumental foul ups as before, nobody will really care about another 20 grand.

    Oh, and if the main point of the thread is picking holes in what EXACTLY the minister may or may not have said a few weeks ago, I haven’t missed it. Just don’t consider it that important compared to the job of ensuring that there’s someone half decent running our most important service.

  • thethoughtfulone

    Oooops, of course it should be “without needing …………….”

  • Zig70

    In today’s economic climate a £20k pay rise is scandalous. Should have called his bluff and told him to go looking for the highly paid director jobs in the private sector. There are plenty of private sector business’ that don’t pay senior level pay above the £100k rate. Looks like ministers are too backward looking for this kind of decision.

  • The yokel

    You’ve got to admire the man. Taking on the might of Stormount and winning – well a least making them take a decision. U-turn is a bit strong though, it implies a change of direction, this more like moving from random meandering to actually going somewhere. Although, having said that it is still probably only an interim appointment.

    A scandal? How about DARD wasting millions in unnecessary fines?

  • Mick Fealty

    TY,

    “…it is still probably only an interim appointment.”

    Who knows. The Executive have effectively shelved the governance issue for four years, so it will remain a complex structure in search of a useful purpose.

    The CEO will have a Board that in turn answers to a single shareholder (who is also his boss) and knows too little about the specialist business NIW is involved in.

    Jay Rosen found this perspective on the governance problem at NewsCorp:

    “In companies where directors are genuinely subject to the shareholders’ will, CEOs get fired; BP’s board fired Tony Hayward last year, for example, and Hewlett-Packard’s board fired Mark Hurd.

    “The message cascades down through the organisation: Bad behaviour gets you fired here. But at companies where the CEO can fire the board, a different message cascades down: We don’t answer to the shareholders, we answer to just one person.”

    Now you take the case of NIW where the only stakeholder is effectively the CEO’s boss and you have a loop in which the Board can be sacked when the CEO’s line manager thinks its convenient and you have a senior management that is structurally conditioned to dis-incentivise good behaviour.

    The corporate governance is an expensive fiction, yet has to be maintained because there is no political will to functionally address the problem. Trevor should give them a trouble free winter, which is all any of them want at this stage.