Monday, March 27, 2006

Public sector workers strike: world yawns

Public sector workers are going to strike, and personally I doubt that anyone will notice.
A strike by local government workers in Scotland over changes to their pension scheme will have a "massive impact" on services, Cosla has warned.

Well, they would say that, wouldn't they.
Workers are unhappy over plans to scrap Rule 85 - which allows scheme members to retire without penalty from the age of 60 if their age and experience add up to at least 85.

Finance Minister Tom McCabe has defended the move and said the Scottish Executive believed the rule breaches EU rules on age discrimination.

For which read, "we are completely fucked financially, and we simply cannot afford this kind of shit anymore."
However, Unison said it was important to keep Rule 85 to protect public sector workers' rights.

Mr Di Paola said: "It allows people who have reached the age of 60 - if they have service and age that add up to 85 - to go at 60 without a reduction in their pension.

He said there was an "inherent unfairness" about local government workers not being able to take advantage of early retirement provision, while civil servants, teachers and NHS workers could.

Really? Personally, I think that there is an inherent unfairness in that public sector workers automatically get pensions at all. Since the average public sector wage is now considerably higher than the average private sector wage, why the fuck shouldn't they pay for their own damn pensions rather than leaching off the rest of us? And, why, in the name of fuck, should they have a "right" to retire early when those who pay their wages and their damn pensions are being asked to work till they're 70? Especially as public sector workers have such shitty productivity (for which read "they are lazy, inefficient bastards) and take far more sick days per year than do private sector workers?
Stress is one of the leading causes of absence in the public sector, it added.

About half of public bodies cited stress as the leading cause of long-term absence for non-manual workers.

Look, the solution to this is really simple: if they become so stressed that they have to take time off sick, then they should be sacked and replaced with someone who can do the job. You'd be doing those workers a favour really as they could go and find a job which more fits their skills. Like flipping burgers in MacDonald's; oh, no, they'd probably get stressed about the queues of people waiting.
Absence levels were highest in local government, the health sector and in the drink, tobacco and transport industries.

Wow, is that the local government workers to whom we need to give more protection?
The survey of more than 1,000 organisations also found differences in how the public sector manages absence compared to the private sector.

I think that we all know what's coming, don't we...?
Public sector organisations are far less likely to take disciplinary action against workers who take excessive time off sick, the CIPD found. In addition, sick pay is generally more generous in the public sector.

Yup, they get more sick pay and the job-for-life mentality ensures that we continue to pay for people who cannot do the job for which they were hired. This means that their work either gets shunted onto someone else, who will then probably not be able to cope with the stress and also go off sick, or we have to pay for someone else to be hired, thus paying two people—on generous salaries and even more generous pension plans, naturally—to do the job of one person.

God, I love this country...


Bob Watt said...

"Personally, I think that there is an inherent unfairness in that public sector workers automatically get pensions at all. Since the average public sector wage is now considerably higher than the average private sector wage, why the fuck shouldn't they pay for their own damn pensions rather than leaching off the rest of us?"

You seem to be misinformed...
Workers in Local Government do not "automatically" get pensions. I pay 6% of my salary each month into the Local Government Pension Scheme. Under the proposals I will be £140 a month worse off, as well as losing about £3600 from the lump sum I would get after paying in for over 30 years.
As for the public sector pay being so high, I'm a Building Surveyor and the latest RICS salary survey says the average private sector salary for that job at my age is £37k, I earn £27k working for a council. But I could balance that with the fact that I got a good pension if I survived long enough to collect it.

Devil's Kitchen said...


To put that 6% into perspective, four years ago I was told that to retire at 60 on £16,000 a year, I would need to pay a minimum of £250 a month into my private pension fund. At the time this was 25% of my salary and, quite simply, unaffordable. It still is.

The average public sector wage in Scotland is now about £1,500 more than in the private sector (I'll try to find the link for you). Though I will concede that public sector wages tend not to rise so high as private.


Anonymous said...

Equally to retire at 60 on £16,000 I'd have to work as a civil servant for 40 years, reach a final salary of £32k - and yes I contribute too, albeit @ 3.5%. The reality is that the average civil service pension is around £4k per year. I will attend the local government rally tomorrow, just as I rallied for a decent state pension for all, not because I'm directly affected but because I've never understood the logic that we should drag everyone down to the lowest common denominator. Too damn right you should have a dcent pension, and work for it, but we're in this together.

Incidentally if you strip out long term sick, the public sector is lower than private in terms of rates - because no, we don't sack people who are off for 6 months or more. As I've said before the public and private sectors are mutually dependent, we do need both and it ain't a competition!

Floreat Aula said...

The other point that Bob should be aware of is that he is likely to work far fewer hours, get better job security and some form of final salary scheme which is not about to be closed down.

By the way, thanks for the hints on linking... will try and get that worked thru'

David Farrer said...

Bob says: "I pay 6% of my salary each month into the Local Government Pension Scheme".

What he doesn't mention is how much I pay into his pension fund every month as a taxpayer.

If he's in the Lothian Pension Fund, the amount people like me (who have to fund our entire pensions out of earnings) are forced to "contribute" is another 18.9% of his salary into his fund. I'm not even mentioning the £700 million deficit in the LPF that will no doubt be funded by Council Tax payers.

And I've got to walk to work tomorrow.

Martin said...


"In the year to January 2006, pay growth (excluding bonuses) in the private sector was 3.8 per cent, compared with 4.1 percent for the public sector. Including bonus payments, private sector growth stood at 3.3 per cent compared with 4.4 per cent for the public sector."

Excuse me if my sympathy for the serried ranks of taxpayer funded 9 to 5-ers is muted.

And one wonders whether Bob has to maintain the overheads that private sector RICS have to meet, such as payroll, professional indemnity insurance, VAT and PAYE, with the premium in their earnings justified by their increased exposure to risk.

Devil's Kitchen said...


Your value as my back-up and supporter is impossible to calculate; thank you.


Anonymous said...

Can't comment on the comment bit - you banned me :-( - but not clear if you're saying public workers have no right to expect to receive their employer pension at 60? Of course it is part of their terms and conditions but of course like any contract it can be breached/changed/rippped up. Is that a "good thing"? If you had signed up to the £250 a month to get a pension at 60 (not sure why you picked 60 for your quote??) wouldn't you have expected redress if the provider said when you were 50, "sorry changed our minds". It's a crap way to treat any worker, whatever sector they're in. If decent pensions for the public sector are secured then it provides a platform to fight for decent pensions for all. If you turn it into an artificial public/private war then there's no winners. I was talking to a fellow Scottish graduate from my univerity the other day - he's just joined my public sector organisation after 15 years in the City and he has "fully funded" his pension already. Good for him.

It'd be tempting to suggest that if you judged yourself by your own lights then you're failing in the private sector if you can't afford to contribute to your pension provision (and I assume make employer contributions to your employees' funds) and who's going to subsidise failing private sector workers who haven't made provision for their pension? Why, me! Taxed at 40%, and expected to work 40 years for the same employer to get my benefits which of course I can't do by 60.........

chris said...

Nobody subsidises the private pension schemes. But the private sector does subsidise the public, a lot.

Devil's Kitchen said...


If you email me your IP address, I'll unban you.

By its very nature, the public sector pension schemes is privately funded. It is funded from tax money raised from the private sector. The government does not create any wealth: it inly has what it steals (and, yes, we admit that some of it is necessary) what it has from the private.

It's an extremely silly thing, I've always thought, that public sector workers pay tax: the government pays people to distribute its money and then it pays other people to work out how much - and to collect - a percentage back again. How foolish is that? Well, this "fiscal churn" is about £5 - 6 billion worth of stupid every year. Why not just advertise public sector jobs at a lower salary but point out that it won't be taxed?


Anonymous said...

To put that 6% into perspective, four years ago I was told that to retire at 60 on £16,000 a year, I would need to pay a minimum of £250 a month into my private pension fund.

WHat a bizarre thing for someone to be talking to you about. Only very wealthy or very lucky people would retire on that amount of money. You'll be looking to retire on around £5,000 per year.

Devil's Kitchen said...

£5,000 a year?! Certainly not! The point being that many public sector workers will retire on a proportion of their salary (usually two thirds, I think).

£5k? There's no way that I could live on £5k, and certainly not on what £5k will be worth in 40 years' time! Or does life suddenly get really cheap when you are retired?


Anonymous said...

Chris - I'm not saying that anyone subsidises private pensions - but if private workers don't/can't/won't make provision then there will be some very poor pensioners, presumably subsidised by people like me....who won't need benefits as a pensioner because, er, I won't need them. Is there a certain symmetry about this? Private supports public supports private etc

DK - not sure about no taxation for public workers but worth a thought. What's certainly wrong is that many civil servants claim the benefits they're employed to administer. And plenty of civil servants earn around 12-13k so even if they got their full pension after 40 years it'd be c.£6k. Not enough to live on and remember the state pension comes at 65 not 60, just like for ALL workers.

Didn't go to the rally - it was wet and there were no buses.

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