Darling and Osborne compare hair-shirts…
Both the Chancellor and his opposite number have been desperately trying to outdo each other when it comes to the ‘who can slash public sector wages the most’ contest. First-up was Alistair Darling who announced his offering at the same time as Osborne in a rather cynical ploy some people might say to detract from what the pretender had to say (at least Gordon Brown didn’t launch one of his ‘surprise visits’ this year). Darling, predictably, stopped short of a blanket freeze (knowing that such a move might provoke an unwelcome flurry of union activity) however, I think he can still expect trouble from GP’s who are notably bolshy when it comes to these kind of things. Senior managers in the NHS et el also ‘benefit’ from being politically soft targets; nobody likes them and most people lament they exist where as teachers and police officers etc are genuinely treasured.
These are ‘front-line’ services; ie, the people who the electorate has regular contact with and cares about. However, the less fortunate groups will get a rise but it is pathetic;
More junior groups covering more than 700,000 other public-sector workers fare little better, with proposed rises of between 0 and 1%. This small rise, lower than that expected in the private sector next year, will cover prison officers, hospital doctors and dentists, contract dentists, and civil service groups not tied in to multi-year deals.
Note particularly the ‘less than the private sector’; something that state largess has done a considerable amount to support during this crisis in the form of ‘no strings attached’ billion-pounds worth of lifeboats for the banks. It is not hard to understand the coming sense of grievance in the public sector which is being asked to carry more than it’s fair share of pain in order to rescue the bloated-bonuses of the banks. However, it is not as if an incoming Conservative government will change that;
Mr Osborne’s plans for economic recovery will mean a pay freeze for four million public sector workers in 2011, except for those earning under £18,000 a year, and if you’re a man who was looking forward to picking up your state pension in 2015, too bad – you’ll have to wait another year.
I can hardly see this type of person feeling too accepting of the ‘age of austerity’ given the aforementioned bonuses. I hardly think the Conservatives and unions will enjoy the kind of cosy relations that enabled Brendan Barber speak at a fringe meeting will endure for long…..