Monday 20 January 2020

Cuts expose fantasy of worker solidarity

IT seems that the law of the jungle applied when the Government decided on who would bear the brunt of public sector pay cuts.

Notions of fairness and, heaven forfend, 'morality' were clearly scoffed at.

As a public sector worker, one of the unlucky ones without my hand on the nation's power switch or air traffic control panel, I have had to swallow my medicine and take a 20pc pay cut over the course of the 'partial' financial emergency.

I now accept that the idea of worker solidarity is a fantasy.

I fully understand the 'tough luck' attitude of my fellow public sector workers, who are immune to the reality of vital and 'nation-saving' pay cuts that are being semi-applied.

I also understand the power that staring into the face of government ministers every single day brings to the elite of the public sector. The higher grade departmental secretaries and other senior civil servants, who very politely asked for some relief with regard to pay cuts, have had a very polite "yes, of course you can" in return.

I propose that my fellow public sector workers, rather than block change, quickly co-operate with the reform programme.

Perhaps, if the proposed public sector reform programme -- which plans for greater movement of state personnel from one section to another -- is introduced, those of us who have had a 20pc pay cut can transfer into one of the upper class public sector jobs?

If we all transferred into a semi-state body, or into a so-called 'essential' service, or perhaps got promoted into one of the jobs holding the minister's briefcase, then surely there won't be any need for public sector industrial action?

Clever readers may have noticed the subtle flaw in this argument, and of course they're right. Clearly we can't all run into a corner like a child and scream and scream until mammy gives in and walks away.

It might be old fashioned, and perhaps radical, but I propose that the former 'partners' in the Government and unions have a team chat with all those under their influence about the moral notion of getting your house in order, taking your own advice, and being fair.

Declan Doyle


Irish Independent

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