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Tiernan Douieb

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Why the Public Sector are Right to Strike

Posted: 10/05/2012 19:59

Depending on what you've read, either 150,000 or 400,000 public sector workers have been on strike today (for all those reading this in the future, I'm writing on 10th May. If you're reading it as I'm writing, how did you get into my house?). The discrepancy in numbers is something that always happens at such events, with the unions making them higher than reality and the news always aiming far lower. By removing one from the other you'll probably end up at an accurate figure and thus we discover the maths of publicity. Either way, a lot of people - including teachers, prison officers, NHS workers and anyone else that has the ungratifying job of dealing with Joe Public and crew - all protested against the the government's proposed pension changes ensuring they all work until they die. Or work, then live in poverty, then die. For the DWP I'm sure the former is the better choice ensuring them less costs and less work, but for the workers I can't imagine there's much between them. Though the thought of the guilt your boss might carry if you dropped dead after a bad appraisal might make it easier to choose.

How dare they eh? How dare these people that deal with the most obnoxious area of society complain about having to work for longer and for less? I mean, why on Earth should they be looked after by our taxes and the government's funding for doing such nonsense jobs as saving our lives, caring for abused children, stopping huge fires or protecting us against crime? Of course when your job is as meaningless and unimportant as that, then there's no reason they shouldn't work till they're 68. I know for one that a paramedic with the health issues a 68 year old may have wouldn't have any difficulty in treating silly patients in an silly 'emergency' situation. A 68 year old prison warden would totally be able to restrain a violent 20 year old criminal, no? No. Though Prison Break would be a lot easier to manage in a one episode season where an old man is knocked over and freedom is gained.

While writing this, someone online has already tweeted me to say that the 'public sector have it easy' and that they should 'stop being so lazy.' The public sector, in my opinion is the most important of all the job areas in the UK, for they are the people employed to maintain some sense of order and safety amongst all us everyday loons who fart about on a daily basis landing ourselves in all sorts of mishaps. Discrediting this work seems similar to telling The Samaritans that they're all selfish, or that the Red Cross are self-aggrandising attention seekers. Yes, people are living longer, and I can see that as being a big problem in terms of government spending, but there has to be a more clever way of going about it as you can't just ensure people work till they drop. Both my parents worked in the public sector, with my dad due to retire in just a few months. In his line of work in child protection, he has saved many children's lives and helped them move on to better lives than the abusive situations they've been in. It's work that I, as a mere comedian, can't even begin to imagine I could do. He often returns home at the moment physically and emotionally exhausted, spending his evenings and weekends shattered from his week. That's at 64. I honestly would fear for his life if he carried on with that level of stress until 68. Not only that, but when he retires, both him and my mum have to live on a pensions that equal less than one of them earned whilst employed. The French public only recently went on strike as the pension age was threatened with being raised from 60 to 64. What a mockery it makes of ours.

Other arguments include saying that some people in the private sector don't have pensions. No they don't. I don't have a pension, and I've got a horrible feeling I never will, but I don't expect the government to give me one, on account of me not providing a service through them that caters for the young, the old, the infirm, the victimised. If stag and hen dos, disruptive audiences and racist cab drivers decided to come forward with a supportive pension scheme I'd definitely feel I was owed. Then there's the old 'the private sector could do the work better and for cheaper'. Reports about companies such as Castlebeck who were exposed by Panorama, say otherwise, and that's just one of many that have been looked into over the last few years. Personally I'd prefer a service that was cared for by a government who weren't so intent on privatising the UK, so it could do the job its meant to and keep this semblance of 'society' we're losing. But that won't happen anytime soon. So as it is, the public sector is called the public sector because of who it's employed for and therefore should be employed by. As a self-employed worker, I believe they need solidarity and respect as much, if not more, than any other.

 

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