Albert has often talked about capitalists exploiting the sweat of his brow but before this morning I remained unconvinced that such a thing existed. Today he was dripping as he chased his hens. He was also crotchety. Our pal was, before he retired a thousand years ago, one of the army of public sector workers now being subjected to all the inuendos and spin that the establishment can throw at it. Albert always retains his old loyalties and always resents the inference that everyone employed by the state is well able to light their cigars with rolled up tenners. It just ain’t so!
With the possibility of strike action looming over pensions the spin-doctors wheeled out every minister and ex-minister they could muster. Micheal Gove suggested that parents should take over the schools, only he could have come up with something quite this ridiculous. Ed Miliband made clear that he is opposed to Union action, presumably a lie aimed at winning support from Daily Mail readers. Tony Blair had the gall to enter the fray by urging the Unions to enter the real world, presumably he believes that lectures at £100,000 per go are available to everyone. Only dear old Uncle Vince urged more negotiations.
It so happens that we allotmenteers do know a few of the supposedly priviledged public sector employees. One friend of a friend is a teacher in a state secondary school in London. She is paid £32,000 per year and is still paying off her student loan. Her pension contributions will rise from 6.4% to 9.6%. Given the costs of living in the capital she already struggles to pay her present contributions of £200 per month and now realises that she will be required to continue teaching until her 68th birthday. She fears that the energy levels she requires to handle large classes of sometimes unruly pupils will have withered long before then.
Another friend is a case worker for the Crown Prosecution Service. He is paid £19,000 per year and will have to find another £60 per month and work six extra years to earn a pension of £6000. Meantime he is under great pressure, the departmental strength having been reduced considerably. Finally there is a 36 year old lady who works for the Revenue and Customs. She is paid £14,000 and will have to find an extra £37 per month. She already buys supermarket brands to keep costs down and is near the end of her tether.
I am sure there are many more examples which show that the Fat Cats label does not fit the mass of public sector employees. Interestingly all of those we spoke to mentioned the ‘tax gap’ of £120 billion. This covers the massive tax avoidance practices of the rich and the large corporations. Not surprisingly Osborne is not prepared to tackle his friends, more surprisingly the opposition shows little inclination to do so either. Clearly the influence of the Blairites lingers on.
We all hope that a fair setllement can be reached but we shouldn’t hold our collective breath. Many public sector people do difficult and stressful jobs, social services being an obvious example. This government has gone to great lengths to discredit them, yet without them many vulnerable people would be in a very sorry state. We need them.
If ministers go down the road of taking further legal steps to ban the only outlet that exists for their pent-up frustration they may be in for a shock. They claim that the public are behind them, I have seen little evidence of that!
A REAL TEASER FOR YOU! A reader tells me that only 5% of Stanford University graduates managed it!!
Can you answer all 7 of these questions with the same 7 letter word?????