Tuesday, February 24, 2009

SpEak you're BrANES!


Pay cuts to save jobs? For some people that's been happening routinely anyway. Mark Reed on the unfair stick public sector employees get.

Recently, employees of my local council have been offered a 1% payrise.

Public consensus, that is, on the local BBC SpEak you're BrANES! is that they should count themselves lucky they EVEN have a job. Hell, they should even pay the council for the privilege of working there.

Which in a way they do. The current rate of inflation is 3%.
The current increase in train fares is 9%.

So what this 1% means is that, in effect, staff are having a pay cut.

I know some businesses are asking workers to take pay cuts or imposing pay freezes, but that's a recent development of the recession. A Public Sector Worker getting a pay rise of 1% is not unusual. The biggest annual pay rise I ever got in the Public Sector year-on-year and staying in the same role was 2.5% a year.

An entry level librarian earns less - much less than the average UK salary of £20,000. An entry level nurse at Grade 1 earns around £11,800 a year. A 1% pay rise to a entry level nurse would benefit them by £118 a year, or less than £10 a month. Before tax. After tax, about £7.50 a month. With train fares rising 9%, if you pay more than £70 a month to get to work, that's your pay rise wiped out in the blink of an eye. So your pay rise goes on nothing but getting to and from work.

Nobody seemed to mind highly paid city bankers ... until the recession. Nobody seemed to mind the fact that obscene bonuses and salaries for the few priced out millions of people from home ownership. Nobody seemed to mind capitalism when it worked, and nobody seemed to mind getting rich - but everyone despises the hangover when capitalism goes wrong. So many people are Fair Weather Friends to capitalism. You can't just have the goods and not pay the bill when it arrives.

Given that the Public Sector does not pay the competitive salaries of many businesses, by working in the public sector people are making a trade off : relatively (but not entirely) secure employment which does not pay especially well - unless you're at the absolute higher echelons, which is often challenging, underfunded, understaffed, swamped in bureaucracy, publically accountable, and - by the way -accountable to the Kangaroo Court of the tabloids whenever any scumbag parents beat their children to death, yet at the same time, being meddling, brainless bureaucrats that want nothing but to snoop through your garbage.

And of course, everything every Public Sector Worker does can be on the front page of a newspaper, because WE WORK FOR YOU, and of course, the editors of Tabloid Newspapers. Nobody really seems to care too much if a Private Sector corporation wastes an enormous amount of money, or if they do something that kills someone - but if someone in the Public Sector does it, the Editor of a red top is screaming for a public hanging from the front page. At my current job, I get a lot of Freedom Of Information Act requests from newspapers asking questions because they're looking for stories to publish about Political Correctness Gone Mad in their small world. Don't be surprised if there is something about Esperanto in the next twelve months in a newspaper.

And Public Sector workers are all pigs with snouts in the trough of final salary pensions : despite the fact that it's not final salary pensions that are the root of financial evil, but the fact that businesses are moving away from final salary pensions and forcing future generations into old age poverty that is a great financial inequity in this world.

Working in the Public Sector is not a job designed to make you popular or rich. It's thing many people do because they'd rather do something with their lives that makes a difference, that gives someone a better home, or an extra few years seeing their grandchildren grow up, makes the world a better place in a small way. I was once offered a job working on the air-to-ground targeting computers for missiles. The end recipient of such a missle would not appreciate it, or benefit from it, in say, the way that a ill patient could have their lives saved by a diagnosis or a treatment.

The Public Sector is hard, but it's the most satisfying and rewarding job I have done.

Public Sector staff have traditionally worked in tough environments. Few people got rich working in the public sector. Yes, public sector workers can get some minimal help with key housing - but realistically, the number of key housing properties available is a fraction of the number of key workers in the public sector. Working in the public sector means that you either have to rent a property, inherit one, or have bought one years ago. Public Sector Workers generally don't earn enough to get mortgages these days.

I've been working in it the past fifteen years, and I have earnt probably around a half to two thirds of what I could have made if I worked in the Private Sector. At the time I was working as a project manager for multi-million pound projects in October 2001, I was having to buy food on credit cards due to the meagre salary I was then earning.

Still, if all we ever wanted was to be rich, anyone can achieve that - but there is a price to pay.

Now, I know that times are tough, but they're tough for everyone - including the people who work in the Public Sector. The common perception from people who work in the Private Sector is that the Public Sector is made up of people who can't get jobs in the Private Sector. People in the Public Sector can't cut it out there in the so called 'real world', and some people seem to think that most civil servants are sitting around in ivory towers, doing no work whatsoever, twiddling their thumbs as they are 'unsackable', and are parasites leeching off the hard work of the rest of society.

If it were true, nobody would ever collect your bins. All the libraries would be closed. All the hospitals and doctors would charge your credit card before they diagnose your ills. There would be no fire engines. No police. No ambulances. No hospitals. No one would get unemployment benefit. There would be no social workers. No one to help the weak in society.

It's time the Public Sector workers - the people who maintain the fabric of our society, clean our toilets, empty our garbage, save lives, get attacked in ambulances, arrest and chase criminals, put out fires, try to house the desperate, teach the next generation, and try to make the world a better place were a little bit more appreciated financially. All we ask is an equal wage. Not a pay cut by stealth.

5 comments:

thepatriot said...

It would be preferred by those public sector workers to realise they are privileged to have permanent,pensionable jobs in this economic crisis. ...

Ceri said...

No, t'patriot, yet more right wing fantasy nonsense- I work in the public sector, and haven't had a permanent job in three years, and even many nominally permanent jobs rely on short term funding.
Moreover, the only reason permanent pensionable jobs are a 'privilege' is because right-wing muppets like you got your way and made them so.
The economic crisis is precisely the fault of those who did so much to make temporary, low paid, insecure work the norm.

Planet Me said...

Ceri is correct.

thepatriot said...

Poor you guys.
My heart bleeds when I think pf every bank holiday when council buildings get an automatic extra day off. The Libraries, the museums, all council offices.
It must be very hard for you.

An awful lot of public jobs are useless. The guy who wrote this article mentioned rubbish collectors and the police. No one is attacking them. When people moan about public jobs they refer to all those useless red-tape lined offices. Not to mention 'staff without posts' which is endemic in Councils and is a scandal.

Only last month it emerged that more than 4,000 civil servants are being kept on the Whitehall payroll despite having no work to do.

Planet Me said...

Clearly you learn everything you know about the public sector from the Daily Mail. In the fifteen years I've spent in the public sector, I've never met one person who was 'staff without post', and I've met probably 5,000 employees in that time. The Bank Holidays? Does not ring true to me. About the only businesses that I know of that are open at Bank Holidays are in retail/service. Beither I nor anyone I know has experienced these 'extra days'. If you really want to go ballistic, think of Teachers.. thirteen weeks holiday a year!