Tuesday, November 08, 2011

UNISON - The big deception?

I was reminded to day of the completely, outrageous inequality in our economy, in which public sector workers encouraged by the unions believe that they have some God given right to be paid far in excess of the private sector, and that with no sense of shame, their happy to see the low paid workers, fund their extravagance.

I'd have some respect for the public sector unions if I thought they gave a toss, for those subsidising their life style but then you don't, millions in the commercial sector, work without any basic safeguards, still its clear that in the higher echelons of the public sector, there is an alternative reality, whereby people like Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, make odd statements like this one "UNISON members have voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking industrial action to protect their pensions in the biggest ballot we have ever held." and the BBC reported that "There was a 78% majority, with 245,358 in favour and 70,253 against on a 29% turnout.

The BBC's figure would indicate that only around 22½ percent support strike action with a big 77½ percent  against the action. More than three quarters of Unisons members are not supporting action, clearly some public sector employees know a good thing when they see it. The government should bare this in mind when negotiating with them.

I personally would like to see the government act tough on this one, the continuing idea that public sector workers, should be given preferential treatment, is plan crazy and unsustainable, and I'm not saying that everything is hunky dory, of course some in the public sector get a raw deal, but of course their probably the cleaners in hospitals, offices, and streets working for some tinpot agency and getting minimum.

Anyway I'll leave you to decide whether Dave Prentis is coming out with porkys' and if your happy with the status quo, then please go back to sleep, if you would like to understand how serious the drain of public sector pensions is, I suggest you read Dominic Lawson in today's Independent which prompted me into my own less articulate rant.

Finally what should the government do, in response to Unison's militant strike action threat, my advice would be to ingnore it, what's the worst that could happen, we save some money on the pay roll and since it has little support, sack a few, just like the real world. Alternatively public sector workers could start demanding equality, for the workforce as a whole. It's clear to me that the balance is all wrong, private and public workers should have a level playing field otherwise, one section  of society will continue to blead the other dry.


  1. So the turnout was only 29% but that figure is not uncommon in local elections and general election do not reach 50%.

    In the 2010 election the Conservatives received only 23% of all votes that could have been cast and yet they are leading our country. Libdems 13%. Not what you would call a majority.

    Boris Johnson won control of London with only 24% of potential votes and no doubt Livingstone had a simmiar percentage when he was in power.

    Nothing new about minorities controlling the agenda.

  2. True, 5:20, but do they then claim overwhelming majorities? Unfortunately no political party is ever likely to achieve over 50% in any election, but what we get is a parliament or council made up of two or three main political groups and several smaller ones. At least most have some sort of voice.

    With strike ballots, although only 22% of the members vote for the strike, all the ones who didn't and any non-union members working in the subject industry are then expected to comply with the wishes of this minority. If they don't they get called scabs and black legs and even their children (experience from the miners strike) can be subjected to abuse by other children and their parents alike.

    Is this really how far the Labour movement has come in a so called civilised 21st century world.

  3. It is not just pensions way above those of equivalent level jobs in the private sector, but the 37 hour working week of civil servants. No flexi hours for them, but rigid start and finish times, half days on Fridays and overtime for anything outside those hours.

    Try getting that in most private sector jobs.

  4. Anon of 07.27, as a Civil Servant of 36 years, I can say that what you have said is completely wrong and inaccurate - much like the repeated anti-public sector rants of the blog owner.

  5. As with general elections those that do not vote cannot complain and its just the same for union members that do not vote in strike balots. The non voters know the consequences and have to live with it.
    If you join a union because of the protection it gives against the power of employers then you know that here is the possiblity of being asked to strike.
    Its just not in the private sector that unions look after their members interests and its not lways about pay. What kind of business would the construction industry be without the unions interest in safety and training issues?

  6. 07:57 Then obviously you do not work for the MOD where hours and working practices are exactly as described by Anon 07:27 PM.

    As for all the unions have done for the private sector, well maybe in the past, but the last big union stronghold is now in the public sector. They managed to destroy most of their other big power blocks with their militancy.

  7. Well, 8:04, what about all the poor devils that don't join a union and still get caught up in their strike activities. It is totally undemocratic and should have been outlawed years ago.

    Ultimately, so called organised labour will complete the destruction of this country and possibly the free world market economy. Whilst that might sound attractrive to some union leaders the Soviets did not exactly thrive under the alternative system.

  8. The Chinese economy does not appear to be doing too bad these days.
    In 2008, a new law in China forced most companies to create an affiliated chaptered trade union.
    Unlike the Soviet trade unions which were a tool of government rather than one of the the workers.

  9. The Chinese economy is not the ordinary Chinese people where rights are still sadly lacking.

  10. Progressing my earlier comment, I have been a public servant for 36 years. Specifically a civil servant, working in a major Department - not MOD.

    There are good and bad public servants - including in areas such as nursing and the medical profession, which are usually seen as "untouchable" - just as there are good and bad private sector workers. Ill-informed, populist attacks by one group on the other are divisive, destructive, and serve no interests other than those of the few "in charge" who wish to see workers carry the can for their errors and decisions.

    Civil servants - to speak of the area I know most about - work a 37 hour week in London, 38 outside London. This is net of lunch breaks. The overwhelming majority DO work flexible hours, which serves the interests of the employer and, yes, the employee. For most above a certain grade, there is no such thing as paid overtime, and most work considerably more than their 37 or 38 hours per week, without additional pay. I certainly have for most of my career.

    If staff take Friday afternoon off, they do so either by taking annual leave or what is called flexi-leave - hours built up by working longer than the 37 or 38 hours per week. This would typically be more junior staff - few in higher salary levels would do so.

    If Anon/Will Lambert you have a different experience of the MOD, so be it. Or you may be lying to make your point.

    For most of my career, bids for wage increases have been presented year on year on the basis of securing parity with comparable jobs in the private sector, which have, traditionally, paid better. For virtually all of my career, these bids have been rejected, by Governments of both left and right. Almost invariably, the arguments against have been a) the relative job security of public sector staff and b) the value of their index-linked pensions. Every analysis shows that public sector wages have fallen further behind.

    In the good times for the private sector, staff - not all, I recognise - have enjoyed various perks and bonuses, help with season ticket costs, free parties and the like. Those have not been enjoyed by public servants.

    The country's finances are now in a mess, in common with virtually the entirety of the developed world. Public servants are being asked to make sacrifices, as are private sector workers. They have endured a two-year pay freeze, despite the highest level of inflation for several years. They have seen jobs disappearing at a rate of knots

    What the Government are now doing is going back on what public servants have had put to them over many years as the justification for lower pay. They are having pension rights reduced to "help the nation" and because they are being judged "unaffordable". They have seen their job security - again an argument for depressing wage levels - disappear. That is why they feel so aggrieved at what the Government is doing.

    There were no protest over the pay freeze - not imposed wholesale on the private sector. But it is monumentally unfair to change the rules in the way the Government is now doing. It is not greed, it is a fight against unfairness.

    I hope the strike is big and effective. It will be the first time I have gone on strike in the whole of my career.

  11. Industrial staff (drivers) arrive at work, book out a vehicle and then, 15 minutes up the road, stop for breakfast at public expense. If required to move military personnel out of their scheduled hours, they sit at home all day on normal pay and then do their driving detail that evening/night on overtime. No flxi-hours there.

    Clerks doing duty officer out of hours, can sit at home watching the TV, all on overtime, to respond if needed to an emergency for which they are not trained or even security cleared to sufficient level to read the sealed instructions.

    Military Commanding Officers booking into modest B & Bs or Travel Lodges, on army subsistance rates, whilst their accompanyning civil service clerks/secretaries book into 4* hotels and claim actuals.

    The comment "I have not used up all my sick leave yet" is commonplace and stress related illnesses routinely occur whenever facing a disciplinary hearing.

    This is the reality of the civil service within MOD. Frankly our soldiers, sailors and airmen deserve better support.

  12. If what you say is true, "Will Roberts", why not present your evidence to the National Audit Office and/or your MP. Whistle-blowing is well provided for.

    We clearly have very different experiences. Are you a current public servant or a member of the miltary attached to MOD?

  13. You have possibly heard of Military Support Function staff, ex officers and warrant officers, holding posts within the civil service, so that answers your question.

    Yes, I gave evidence to MPs during the strategic defence review but, frankly, it does not seem to have made one iota of difference because the government seem too scared to take on the combined force of Unison and Unite. "Management changing established working practices" and all that usual TUC jargon prevails.

    The work ethic difference between uniformed and civilian staff is intolerable for anyone who once was in the armed services.

  14. 09:33 Excuse me butting into your private exchange but what is this strange comment about military attached to MOD. The military are what the MOD exists for, all military units and personnel are part of MOD not just attached.

    Says it all about the CS when they consider themselves more important than the ministries they serve.

  15. 7 57 Really I think there ought to be a name for people like yourself, i have no doubt that you have during your career been diligent hard working and all that malarky, but hay, wake up and smell the ovaltine (Coffee would probably be to strong!).

    However you make that astonishing claim that most of your career you were underpaid, how's this?presumably you would have jumped ship unless, your skill set were such that the "civil service" was the only choice.

    37-38 hours a week and Oh dear! "above a certain grade" "most worked considerably more" "without additional pay" (probably trying to justify rock solid secure employment and fat very generous gold plated pension)

    I wont bore you, but in my industry 38 hours would be considered part-time, but you 7:57 share that common sense of hurt, of all public sector workes coupled with inflated self worth, and the selective vision that doesn't recognise those around them, such as the cleaner emptying your bin or sorting out the toilets is also a public sector worker, however they will be working for an agency on minimum wage and no job protection and from miniscule wages digging deep for you pension.

    Unfortunately, those of outside your public sector world are ruled by people like you, so I think from now on I shall refer to you and your ilk as publicrats (pertaining to, being in the service of the community, and -crat a combining form meaning “ruler,” “member of a ruling body,”)

    Frankly the arguement that a publicrat such as yourself 7 57 should forever be treated differently to the low paid private sector worker funding your pension is immoral given that you and your ilk never acknowledge their contribution.

    Many jobs funded by the taxpayer are made up such as the rather insane idea of taxing low paid and then giving them back tax credits, just think of the benifits of releasing, thousand of drones from the tax office, imagine what they could do in the private sector, er.. probably best to keep them where they are.

    Finally what could be unfairer you getting a gold plated pension paid for by people on the minimum wage. Of course some of your colleague are hard done by as is the same elsewhere however the level of pensions for state workers is unsustainable.

  16. So 7 57 hopes the strike is big and efective. Surprise, surprise, so does the government and most people outside the TUC/Labour isolation ward. There is nothing like irresponsible strike action to focus the minds of the majority on the make believe world of socialism and its bottomless public pockets.

    All the inconvenienced people outside the public sector, who fund your wages and pensions, are going to be still further hardened against you. Talk about creating division when a reality check says we should be pulling together as a nation.

    I'm with Tony all the way on this one.

  17. 37 hour week gold plated pensions they dont know they are born. If they want better jobs sack em all and they can see what its like working for a living.

  18. And yes, let's sack all the public servants, Don. I presume the private sector delivers all your welfare and healthcare needs?

  19. Clearly, Tony, only you are allowed to use blunt language in the presentation of your "opinions". When someone else goes not even half as far as you do with your insults and offensive tone, you delete their comments. Fair enough, it is your blog, and clearly your very personal and individual take on what it means to be a Liberal Democrat justifies your particular brand of political behaviour - in your "mind".

    And, as you have demonstrated before and others have observed, you are never one to allow truth, fact and certainly fairly-presented argument get in the way of your knee-jerk opinions, so bombastically expressed.

    Next time I see a bunch of lazy, indifferent track workers taking a break while failing to do what is necessary to keep the trains running on time, I shall think of you. Meanwhile, your attitude, prejudice and divisive approach has strengthened my determination to strike for a fully justifiable cause.

  20. Oh please do,9:28, for your justifiably cause will do far more for the Conservative support than any canvassing could.

    If I pass your picket line I will break wind in support!

  21. Tony, I see our sanctimonious and hard working civil service friend has leapt in on here at 09:28, on the Clive Hart post at 09:12 and on the Kent Child Services one at 09:35.

    Now this is what he means about his diligence in his major department. He gets to work about 9 in the morning, has his coffee and then starts his comments around various blogs all being paid for by you and me.

    Nice work if you can get it with a big fat index linked pension at the end of it. Meantime, I have just had the usual 'Mutiny on the Bounty' start to my day with the two union reps and am on my lunch hour having started at 7.30 am. Oh, and whilst another British soldier has died in Afghanistan the shit that surround me are full of their impending strike.

  22. I'm treated like a slave with no rights or hope of a comfortable retirement, so why should anyone else have them......

    Yeh great reasoning.
    Just perfect.. for the playground.

  23. 12:18 to whom do you refer. Having read through the comments I can find no one who claims to be treated like a slave or complains of having no pension. In an ideal world everyone would have a reasonable pension in return for their years of work. Not, as at present, where some have little or nothing whilst others have gold plated packages the country cannot sustain into the distant future.

    The playground stuff, is the selfish attitude which says I want my pension untouched and sod the future generations. In other words, its my ball so only I can play.

  24. 7:37 I have a deferred public sector pension and I am concerned that it may be deferred still further. Nonetheless, I can understand the reason why and am just extremely grateful that I still have one to look forward to.

    I do not support your irresponsible strike.

  25. Will Roberts, I am actually on sick leave at the moment. And no, it is not a stress-related illness for which you appear to feel some contempt. I have had surgery and am returning to work soon. You really should be careful about the assumptions your drooling hatred of anything left of centre - actually, no, anything that doesn'r chime with your views - leads you to make.

    And I can hold unswerving support and admiration for troops serving abroad without referring to my colleagues as "shits". To repeat Tony Flaig's line, why do you stay there? Perhaps to get at your colleagues who undoubtedly hold you in the same contempt you feel for them?

    And what a little detective you are, apparently analysing blog comments and drawing conclusions about their origin. Your behaviour is a little sad, as is the fact that your conclusions are like your assumptions.

  26. As a postscript, it is good to see that Tony has a new best friend, though.

    You do make me laugh.

  27. Glad to bring you some pleasure while you are using up your sick leave and, on another point, I am delighted to tell you I have my date for VER. What a pleasure that day will be.

  28. Will...

    I am not "using up my sick leave". Until this recent episode, I had had a clean sick record for many years. I agree with you entirely that attitudes such as "I'm entitled to x days off for sick" are unacceptable in any field of employment and out of place in any modern workplace. I think we would agree on one or two other bad practices that come to mind.

    But I do not agree about the pension changes.

    Speaking of which, despite your comments on here, you are clearly = with VER - going to be retiring short of 65 and therefore benefiting in a way you do not believe those in future years should. Hmmm...

  29. Wrong again I am afraid for I only have some deferred pension rights and a small lump sum from my, thankfully, limited time with the CS, so it is back to the drawing board.

    For the record, I don't begrudge anyone their pension, but understand that pensions must fit within a costing level that can be sustained into the future. Otherwise the next generations will be very poorly placed. One only has to look at Zimbabwe, once having a strong public sector from colonial days, and yet they have not paid their externally resident pensioners since September 2002. Internally they have been dramatically reduced.

    Imagine the outcry if we ran out of money and decided to stop public sector pension payments for all those living outside the UK.

    By the way, what grade are you?