Friday, 1 July 2011

I hate . . . Public Sector Strikers

Striking 'workers' in Westminster.
Pic: Ema Globyte
For for those who have not noticed, around 750,000 public sector workers (or 100,000, depending who you believe) went on strike today. This included civilians who work for the police, teachers and passport control staff. They complain of plans to increase what they have to pay for their pensions, and an increase in retirement age to 66.

They have caused massive inconvenience and cost for millions - forced to arrange childcare or book time off work to care for children or to delay travel. Worse, they may have threatened lives by reducing response times to critical 999 calls.

While public sector workers do have a right to negotiate for better rights, moving to the nuclear option may leave them with nowhere left to go - hated by both their direct employers -the government - and their indirect employers - the tax payer.

And what really irritates is that they are making demands so far out of touch with the common reality. I (along with a lot of people I know) have and equivalent education level as a teacher, and probably better than many of the other public sector employees.
  • Pay (from what I can see from job ads) is roughly equivalent for a similar level role. Few people I know have had a pay rise in the last two years, except by promotion or a new job. At least you get something from your union negotiated deals.  Call it a draw.
  • They get more holiday - not just the statutory minimum most others get. Plus most have generous sickness payment that encourages some to treat this as extra holiday. One up for the public workers.
  • They are practically impossible to fire, no matter how poor the performance. They can be made redundant, but often with massive notice, assistance in locating a new job and a generous redundancy payout. Another one for them.
  • Retirement at 60, compared to 65 (moving to 66) for most workers - and that's assuming you can afford it, and don't have to continue to make your pension bigger.
  • Generous pension with high employer contributions. This is the big one, what they are whining about. I've hear figures quoted of an equivalent of £400 extra a month, by the time you take the tax effect into account. compared to most private sector my age of...nothing. Yup - if we want a pension, we have to pay for it. Work for a bigger firm, and they may put in a bit, but nowhere near this amount for someone of average levels of pay. Another win for them.
So to the public sector workers: yes, we understand seeing a reduction in benefits is not good. But your expectations are now so far out from the rest of us - you know, those who actually those taxes - you begin to look like you may be moaning ingrates with too much power due to the unions. People are both living longer and expecting more, so you cannot expect the same as you got 30 years ago. You are going to have to pay more for your pensions, retire later, and maybe get less.

Get over it.

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