On a morning in September, whilst private sector people ran away from the towers, the public sector ran towards them.
A public sector friend of mine recently had a go at me about classing all public sector workers in the same category, and he was, of course, right. Not every public sector worker is a dosser, or is overpaid, or has a job for life or a generous pension. As well as that the reality is that when you hear a noise at night, or fear for the lives of your kids, or smell smoke, it is the public sector you call to save you. It is firemen and police officers and PDF bomb disposal specialists who put themselves in harm’s way to save strangers, because it is their duty.
It can also be said about teachers and doctors and nurses, many of whom go that extra mile because it makes a difference. I have known mediocre teachers, and teachers who obviously did not want to be teachers. But I have also known teachers who did give a shit and who inspired and whom today still inform the person that I am. They too are the public sector.
There is a lot of talk about the need for fairness, and public sector workers are entitled to that fairness too, as we recognise that the section of public sector workers who do have job security and generous pensions are doing better than the majority of workers in Ireland. It is, quite simply, not fair for private sector workers and other non-pensioned public sector workers to have to fund their own pensions, and then pay taxes to those public workers and politicians who earn more than they do to pay for their pensions.
So here’s the deal: Let’s benchmark again, but give the pensioned, highly paid public sector workers a choice: A lower salary, but job security and reduced but defined benefit pension, or a higher salary but with private sector terms and a requirement to fund their own pension. And by the way, if they earn over €50k, let them go and automatically fund your own pension. They can afford it more than the majority of taxpayers.
The public sector are right. They are entitled to be treated just like private sector workers.