Monday, 28 November 2011

Strike, By Gove!

Education Secretary Michael Gove has today launched into a scathing attack on the beleaguered public sector workers who are due to go on strike on Wednesday across the UK. The strikes are to highlight plans to cut the pensions benefits and increase pension contributions of workers in schools, local authorities, and other public sector services. While the media and the Deputy Prime Minister have played up to myths about supposed "gold-plated" pensions in the public sector, the fact remains that the average pension paid out is around a paltry £5,600 p.a. - this is actually over £200 p.a. lower than the average private sector pension. The accrual rate is slightly better than the private sector, but it has long been a feature that lower pay in the public sector is compensated for by a slightly better set of pension arrangements than most private employers offer.

There is plenty of evidence the public sector pension pot is perfectly viable in the long run and stands to decline as a proportion of public spending. The Government however is determined to cut it and while claiming to still be negotiating, has essentially adopted a "take it or leave it" approach for some weeks now.

And so on Wednesday there will be a one day strike. It is likely to cause significant disruption around the country, although the nation will not be paralysed - but aside from anything else, the inconvenience caused might highlight to people just how much of the work carried out by public sector workers is not noticed - until it isn't there, when its vital role becomes very apparent.

Mr Gove however has lambasted strike leaders: "I am deeply opposed to this action, and the damage it generates," he has said, claiming the leaders of Unite and other unions are simply spoiling for a fight and keen for confrontation.

Mr Gove hasn't always felt like this. Like many Tories, it always a different matter when its his own wallet he is worried about.

Here he is on strike, trying to shut down his employer when he was a journalist back in 1989.

Sauce for the goose...
A kick up the 80s: Striking Gove - kneeling, on the left! (1989)

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