Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Divide and rule: teachers vs cops

One thing I've noticed about pay disputes is that public sector workers who ask for a pay rise are immediately told this will immediately lead to wage cuts for other workers. But surely it is not necessarily the case that the wages pot is only of one size and all the decisions are just about who gets what.

The facts are that there are both spending priorities and decisions on taxation that have a deep impact on the levels of pay for public sector workers, pensioners and the rest. I'm sure it is not a startling revelation to you that if we taxed the rich or ditched nuclear weapons we'd have substantially more money to spend on other things, but it doesn't stop the government and the media trying to pit workers against each other with this false dichotomy.

How else do you explain this headline from the BBC? Are the police really annoyed that teachers are to receive a pay rise? If they are is it front page news? Could the headline have been rephrased to something a little less biased against teachers getting a salary increase?

There will always be tensions between workers that others can attempt to exploit - so I'm sure it's true that some in the police federation *are* annoyed that they were told by the government they could not have a higher pay rise because it would "fuel inflation" and then they see that argument "blown out of the water" by the above inflation pay rise awarded teachers. However, I'd argue it is the government they should be directing their anger against, not the teachers.

I remember Eamonn McCann using the phrase 'tuppence looking down on a penny' and this sort of thing always brings the saying to mind. If the police really are annoyed that another group of public sector workers were able to win a higher pay rise then they are selfish to the point of stupidity - so that can't be right because whoever heard of a stupid copper? Not me. Oh no.

All of this is a way of showing teachers' unions dissatisfied with the rise that they should be grateful for what they get. Now I admit a JimJay led government would not prioritise the pay of the cops. I'm sorry, but it's best to lay my cards on the table here lest I raise expectations. The Old Bill's pay would not even be on the "top one hundred most important things I want to improve" list.
If they want a rise they'll have to fight for it like everyone else, and if they want any public support they should lay off the teachers and start showing a little solidarity. Sadly, I'm not hopeful they'll be willing to follow this advice.

1 comment:

Leftwing Criminologist said...

I agree with your conclusion, but similarly share your doubt.

i think that it's important to note that the 2.45% is still below actual inflation and is still not all that good.

not sure if you saw but i posted again on the police recently