NIPSA has put forward three means of tackling the financial crisis, none of which has even the remotest basis in reality.
Firstly, it states essentially no one should be paid more than £100,000 a year. Even if this were a wise idea, the savings in Northern Ireland would be miniscule.
Secondly, it suggests taxing companies more. Quite. Northern Ireland is suffering because of its dependence on the public sector, so we should make it even harder for the private sector. Who exactly does NIPSA think creates the wealth to pay for public services in the first place?
Thirdly, it comes up with a mythical figure (repeated by ICTU) of £123bn lost across the UK in uncollected taxes each year. Firstly, if this were easy to crack, a government would have cracked it long ago. Secondly, if this figure is correct, would NIPSA accept that the public servants paid out of public funds to collect those taxes should be dismissed?
NIPSA claims to be the union representing people across the civil and public service and voluntary sector in Northern Ireland. With a campaign rooted entirely in dreamland, it is doing each and every one of its members a disservice. The fact is Northern Ireland is too dependent on its public sector, its larger public sector has not resulted in superior public services anyway, and public spending has almost doubled over the past decade with only a minor improvement in health or education standards.
It would be realistic for NIPSA to argue that public services should be retained (as opposed to privatised, mutualised or simply cut) – at least then a case could be made. It is not realistic to argue that public spending is even remotely sustainable when the UK is running a debt of £300,000 a minute including annual transfers of £7-9.5bn above tax take to Northern Ireland. By doing the latter, NIPSA simply excludes itself from the argument altogether – and its members will suffer for it.