Wednesday, November 18, 2009

To strike or not to strike?

Next Tuesday our country faces shut down as the public sector has decided to go on strike. I'm still trying to figure out what exactly the strike is about. I keep hearing people tell me they don't want to loose their benefits and don't want their wages cut and so on, however no one has given me a definitive statement on why they are striking. None of us know what the government are going to decide in the budget. They have stated that they need 4 billion and they will take it out of public sector pay amongst other things but nothing is in stone. Right or wrong, the government are being very clever in keeping their cards close to their chest so we have nothing specific to go on.

I totally understand that the current crisis has plunged people into huge financial difficulties and the government appears to not be helping out much especially when we focus some of our anger on the banks and their lack of sympathy for home owners in difficulty. (We need to remember that if they didn't bail the banks out we'd have NO economy). However, I can't help but ask, why are we the public sector who's jobs are permanently safe not willing to give up 2% of our pay? Especially as we are among the most overpaid public workers in the world. After returning from traveling I lost a significant amount of money through being demoted by proxy and having a wage cut, however I'm so thankful I'm in the public sector because I have a job and it's very secure.

Coming back from being away we've noticed a significant difference in our outgoings on things like groceries etc. Those of us in the public sector have benefited from the downturn when we consider how much most shops and businesses have dropped their prices making for a cheaper way of life. Granted we don't eat out nearly as much as we used to, but when we do treat ourselves to a luxury like that it costs a lot less than it did a year ago.

The strike will not affect the government in any way, all it will do is cause a bigger divide between the private sector and public sector. Our jobs are safe; the private sector have been hammered, absolutely hammered and I'd be pretty annoyed if I was living in fear of my job every day and the public sector were going on strike.
If the budget is harrowing, then maybe then, a strike might have some benefit. However, at this point in time I think a strike is embarrassing and short sighted. I won't even talk about how little respect I have for the unions, especially the 172,000 euro a year earning leaders of them.

Some of us in the public sector genuinely earn our wages with difficult jobs, I include teachers nurses and all frontline staff in this. My job is not easy, I got punched in the head on Monday night however that's my job. Just as teachers have to deal with difficult kids and nurses deal with difficult patients. That's why it's called the caring profession. That is also why we get very good holidays. 27 days a year holidays is excellent for me, compare that to the private sector or our cousins across the water in America. Never mind our sick pay which public sector workers unfortunately abuse and cost the government millions. Teachers get Autumn breaks, christmas breaks, spring breaks and at least 2 months off in the summer; I don't think they like to be reminded of that at the moment. They think it's a right, it's a benefit.

I also don't know if my God conscience would let me hold my country to ransom when I don't specifically know the injustice I'm fighting against. I'm all about standing up for injustice but I'm not sure if us public sector workers with relatively big salaries loosing 2% is an injustice. There comes a point when we have to think of the greater good of our country and maybe those of us with secure jobs can help give back to things like health care, welfare benefits etc. I'm willing to give up a small bit of my salary, be it on the governments head if they choose to use it unwisely.

Will I strike on Tuesday? No. Will I cross the picket line? Absolutely. I've swopped my shift from Monday to Tuesday so I can look after kids I'm paid to look after even if others choose not to.