Some who would claim to be left-wing thought it would be a brilliant idea to breach parity and thus take over ₤1 billion out of Northern Ireland’s public services over the next Assembly term just to subsidise public sector pensions at the current unaffordable level (that is ₤1 billion in addition to the money which would need to be taken from public services to pay for any additional pensions guarantees).
It’s as if by defending public sector workers’ pensions, they are defending the poor. The problem is, they’re not… they’re actually hitting the poor.
This is one of the outrageous mischievous untruths of our time. We all want money taken from “the rich” – yet none of us admits to being so!
It is easy to understand the frustration of public sector workers who find themselves working longer for less pension, despite themselves having contributed.
But then, it is easy to understand the frustration of the private sector worker who saw their salary slashed 20% overnight without warning. Twice.
It is easy to understand the frustration of the voluntary sector worker who suddenly found funding was being withdrawn from their project at the end of the current three-year term, and who didn’t have a pension or any back-up for their new-found unemployment.
It is easy to understand the sheer despair of the self-employed person who had to dip into their savings which they had intended to use for their pension at 65 to pay their mortgage and home fuel bill at 35, rendering them pension-less.
Not once has any politician publicly considered such plights; yet they are commonplace. Let’s hear those who think it’s such a good idea to toss away a billion out of our public services to pay for public sector pensions explain exactly what they’re going to do for those suffering these plights…
For the truth is that, in Northern Ireland, public sector workers are at the top of the income pile. Even their pay “freeze” saw their salaries consistently increase within scale. Not one was laid off, aside from voluntarily or through retirement. Next were the funded voluntary sector workers, who actually did have a pay “freeze”. Some found their projects ending and were left unemployed. Next were the private sector workers, most of whom took pay cuts in absolute terms, often heavy ones; thousands were laid off. About even with those were the long-term unemployed or otherwise economically inactive (say, carers and students) who in fact saw their incomes rise marginally (but not in real terms), but were often further caught in the dependency trap.
To put it simply, public sector wages are now 45% above private sector. You can try to get around that any way you like, it means directly and indisputably that the income of your average public sector worker is 45% above your average private sector worker (and of course even more ahead of those who cannot find work at all). So who, precisely, are the poor ones in need of state support and public service provision? Incredibly, the “Left” in NI would take £1 billion from public services (A&Es packed, school buildings crumbling etc) over four years – hitting the poorest hardest – in order to guarantee the pensions of those whose income is 45% or more higher (and many times more secure).
It’s all the private sector’s fault apparently, for not paying enough. That looks to me suspiciously like blaming the poor… I didn’t think those on the “Left” did that?