Friday, 6 January 2012

Strike update

In my previous post I explained that I was not convinced that the public sector workers' strike over pensions was a good idea. In the end, however, I decided to take part in the strike, for two reasons:
(1) While I do not disagree with the need to reduce the deficit between what the government spends and the amount of money it raises through taxation, I think that targeting public sector pensions is unfair. Before attacking the conditions of employment of ordinary public sector workers, how about trying to recoup some revenue by taxing bankers' bonuses and increasing taxation on the financial sector generally (after all, they were the ones who benefited most directly from the recent bailouts) or by pulling the army out of afghanistan (perhaps we could have a referendum to decide whether or not the majority of voters support this expensive - and, many would say, pointless and unwinnable - war).
I also think that the NHS has far too many tiers of relatively highly paid managers (relative to my pay, anyway!) and I imagine a similar situation exists in other branches of the public sector. I would not be opposed to the government making some savings by cutting back on that area of spending.
Once some of these more appropriate (in my opinion) methods of reducing public spending have been looked at, then maybe we can talk about whether or not there is a need to reform public sector pensions (again! They have already been reformed in 2006).
(2) In spite of the above views, I was still not convinced that strike action was the way forward. In the end, my decision to strike was not really anything to do with the political issues involved. On the morning of the strike, I couldn't bring myself to go into work and help the management to defeat the efforts of those people (or, in the case of my workplace, person - only one of my colleagues took part in the strike) who were prepared to sacrifice a day's pay in order to stand up to our employer (which just happens to be the government) who was threatening to change our terms and conditions of employment for the worse. At 7.30am on the morning of 30th November I had to decide which side I was on and in the end it was not a hard decision to make.

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