Opinon: Osborne should not belittle public sector workers

As a public sector worker I was extremely disheartened and have to question George Osborne’s analysis of the public sector which he dismissed in an arrogant and superficial manner. This is the organisation that will have to implement the policies of any incoming government and George, for all his political ambition, does not appreciate the sector’s commitment to duty and society.

The ‘low morale‘ that he refers to among 40% of public sector staff is directly as a result of the uncertainty that we are all living under as to whether we will have jobs still in the coming months. The election gun may have only been fired two weeks ago but the public sector has been living under the spectre of uncertainty for a lot longer. One would have to be either very rich and have a huge inheritance to fall back on or just have high levels of optimism in their bloodstream to not have suffered low morale from worrying about job losses. The staff survey, as with all surveys, acted as focal point for people’s concerns and distress. George fails to understand this point but, instead, has used valid worry as fodder for political gain and has treated public sector workers as if they are a collective, faceless grouping of sitting dumb ducks.

He goes on to state that the ‘average public sector worker now takes 10 days of absence per year, compared to six days in the private sector. We can’t go on like this’.

His solution is to freeze public sector pay for a year, cap pensions and cut jobs. Can he explain why we are having to bear the brunt of economic hardship when the bankers who caused this crash are receiving huge payouts? Is it any wonder that we fall sick 10 times a year, 4 days more than people earning huge amounts who are able to afford fantastic holidays and don’t have to worry about paying basic bills like heating.

Retributive Justice is theory of justice on how punishment is a morally acceptable response to crime to restore an aggrieved party’s feelings. The Bible alludes to the theory when it states that ‘life for life, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot’. The Tory party haven’t gone for a like for like response and their twist lies in the fact that the public sector is receiving the punishment for free market (bankers) misdeeds. No matter how hard the party tries to move towards the ideology of being an inclusive party this retributive
element can always be found in its small print.

Golden Sarah is a Lib Dem member from South London who works as civil servant and has asked to remain anonymous due to her terms of employment.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Sarah, do you really think that all private sector workers “earn huge amounts”, can “afford fantastic holidays” and “don’t have have to worry about paying basic bills like heating”? No, most struggle on with exactly the same worries and concerns as public sector workers except on average they are paid and have much poorer job security. Super-rich bankers are the exception, not the rule. I’m no Tory but as a public sector worker myself I recognise that the sector as a whole has become hugely bloated and inefficient under Labour and any serious party simply has to address this for everyone’s sake.

  • Andrew Suffield 22nd Apr '10 - 6:58pm

    The Bible alludes to the theory when it states that ‘life for life, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot’.

    That quote is annoyingly often misinterpreted in this manner. An examination of the surrounding text and historical context reveals this to be incorrect. What it was saying was pretty much the opposite: a punishment should be equivalent in scope to the crime, and not amplified for reasons of deterrence or revenge.

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