There's a lot of excitement in the news today about the planned public sector strike next week. What spin the story is given depends, needless to say, on individual publications. The Guardian offers support and sympathy, the Daily Mail, that champion of the new national sport of Public Sector Worker Bashing, offers spiteful and rather ill-informed sniping, the BBC, bless it, is so frightened of accusations of left wing bias, that it skips about uncertainly between the two extremes.
The truth is, the public sector is important to us all. We all use its services on a day-to-day basis, and we're all pretty much stuffed without it. Our roads would fall into total disrepair, we would have no street lights, no refuse collection, no education, no healthcare, no national security or defence, the list is endless, we take it for granted.
Within their ranks are technologists, engineers, scientists, who earn a fraction of what they would earn in the private sector, thanks to a rather ill-conceived system for equal pay. Their salaries are a nonsense, which is why the public sector is haemorrhaging specialists and technologists at a terrifying rate.
The only perk the public sector offers is its pension. Remove that, and you're left with low pay and the warm feeling of doing something for your country as reward for public sector employment. It might be enough for some, but I suspect most would opt for high salary, bonuses, shares options, etc.
We should be very careful what we wish for. We may find that low pay and a diminished pension does not actually deliver the economically sleek, super-efficient public sector we dream of.
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