Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Dear Small Government,

I do not care that 170 civil servants get paid more than the prime minister, because I believe that the work of public servants is valuable and its remuneration should reflect that. I believe that if we want to live in a capitalist system and if we want good people to manage public services (which presumably we do if you want to keep the costs down) then you need to pay a price comparable with that in the private sector for such work. I think that the work of public sector employees helps make Britain a safer, fairer, healthier, and better managed country and to talk about their wages as something that should be ‘held down’ or to ask the public to get angry at paying YOUR employees a fair wage is deeply disturbing. It tells your employees that their work does not matter- or perhaps it does, but it should be done out of the goodness of their hearts? Presumably putting up with all the bullshit (and trust me, there is a lot) that comes with working in the public service industry and rarely earning anything comparable to what your skills would make on the open market is worth it for the knowledge that you make Britain a better place?

The manner in which public service employees are being discussed- as if asking for a fair wage is greedy or unreasonable- as if complaining about their increased workloads as their colleagues lose their jobs around them makes them selfish- as if questioning cuts that are unthoughtful, expensive to implement, and potentially hugely damaging to the economy makes them disloyal- effectively creates a hostile work environment. You have and are showing no respect for those people who have worked hard for this country, implying that they should be fortunate to have jobs in the first place and should just shut up and take it.

This is even more hypocritical when the very anger that you hope to rile in the public is based on their low wages that comes from the exploitation of big business, which pays its fat cats huge wages. It is hypocritical to complain about high wages in the public sector when they are driven by high wages in the private sector, which you not only do not restrict, but actively promote. (I mean if you seriously believe that PM is the most important job in the country, surely NOBODY should earn more?) You talk about this as if this is driven by necessity- but this is nothing more than political spin as you pursue a strategy of small state, big business that does everything for a small number of rich elites and nothing for the population whose labour makes that wealth. What is worse you then have the cheek to criticise that labourforce when they complain about the untenable burden that you place upon them to keep a few rich people happy. To quote the TUC general secretary, ‘These are not temporary cuts, but a permanent rollback of public services and the welfare state. Not so much an economic necessity as a political project driven by an ideological clamour for a minimal state [...] Cut services, put jobs in peril and increase inequality, that's the way to make Britain a darker, brutish, more frightening place’.

This is not a country that I want to live in.

Sirs, I am angry.
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