Cameron Rose, Councillor for Southside/Newington, Edinburgh - Conservative
I used to work in the public sector, my Mum has given her time to public sector for about 37 years. The pay they get is often not all that great - especially for nurses, teachers, community workers and those lower down in the civil service.Plus I really dislike the way that they are being called a 'burden' on the taxpayer. They are paid to serve the public (us) and they do. Often with extremely limited resources, and give way more time than they are paid for, and also THEY ARE TAXPAYERS THEMSELVES.When I worked in the public sector (in a job where I needed a university degree to be qualified to do it), I earned less than what I would have done as a checkout assistant in a local supermarket which I would only need very basic high school level qualifications for. How our current government speak of and treat our public servicemen and women is completely undervaluing everything they do and have done to serve people in our communities. I completely understand why they are striking.
Laura Anne,Thanks for engaging.I agree with you that there are many fabulous public sector workers who provide a great service.But the public sector is also often resistant to change and there are often practices which make it very difficult to adapt to the the changing needs and circumstances of society. This strike is one of those practices which causes so much disruption. People have paid for their council services through their taxes yet they are unilaterally withdrawn because just 30+% of unionised members decide to do so.If you have a look at the post I linked to it was addressing the burden of employers pension payments - rather than the employees being a burden! You might think it is a fine difference but I was concerned to lay out the facts.The public sector pension schemes have benefits which usually go well beyond those in the private sector - I know and benefit from one. If some of the public money now being paid into pension schemes was allowed to create demand in the economy I think that would be a more efficient way of using the money better for the good of all. The problem is the money has to be collected and redistributed (with all the bureaucracy that involves)and, further, it is done in a way which gives unfair advantage to those who are employed in the public sector. In general public sector pensions are more than generous and it is difficult to see why the public sector should not take its share of belt tightening.Thanks again for your comment.
Thank you for responding.Actually I know that the civil service have gone through major restructuring and change - they've also taken a huge hit on the 'belt-tightening' front, with low pay and having to do the job of more than one person because of budget cuts.One of the reasons that pensions were 'generous' is because the wages are often pretty poor. About 1/3 of public sector workers earn under £21,000. I was one of them only a few years ago. I also didn't get any private sector benefits like a company car even though I needed to use my car constantly for work, and safe to say my wee Corsa was not built for the country roads I had to take on. My travel expenses did not cover the cost of maintenance and repairs for my car.I don't necessarily agree with a decision to strike. But I totally understand why people are. The government are not listening to them. On the voting to strike, it was still a majority vote to strike. If you are to argue that only 30+% of the public sector voted for striking.well...how many people came out to vote in the general elections last May? You could then say only x% of the people in UK eligible to vote voted for our current government.
Thanks for your courteous reply.First, are civil service employee contributions not extraordinarily low - something around 3.5%?Second, and I could be wrong here, does the figure of one third of public sector workers paid under £21k not include part time workers - which would make it an unfair figure to use for comparison because there is a high proportion of public sector workers who are part time. The real figure for comparison should take full time equivalents.Finally I agree that legally there is an entitlement to strike (upon a ballot majority). That doesn't mean to say it is wise or right - or that there is a majority in favour - which is often claimed or inferred.Best wishes
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