About time pub­lic ser­vants were made to face re­al­ity

Bray People - - News -

HUSH. QUIET. Si­lence for a sec­ond, please. Now...do you hear it? The sound of mo­men­tous change? Yes - it’s the sound of pub­lic ser­vants fi­nally re­al­is­ing they’re not im­mune to mea­sures to tackle the re­ces­sion, as the pen­sions levy means they’ve been brought hurtling into the re­al­ity that the rest of us have al­ready been fac­ing in re­cent months.

The poor put-upon souls have been mourn­ing the fact that they’ll drop some­where be­tween five and ten per cent of their salary when it’s in­tro­duced, but com­ing af­ter a year when 120,000 peo­ple joined the dole queues and a month where there was an av­er­age of over 1,000 jobs losses per day, it’s hard to have much sym­pa­thy for any­one who still has a guar­an­teed salary of 90 to 95 per cent of what they’ve been used to. That’s on top of all the other perks that most of them - the civil ser­vants in the var­i­ous gov­ern­ment de­part­ments - are en­ti­tled to: flexi-time, a ‘term time’ pro­vi­sion that al­lows them to take two months off at a time, and even a ‘shop­ping day’ at Christ­mas.

Pre­dictably though, most of the out­cry has glossed over the comfy lot of those pen-push­ers and key­board-tap­pers, and fo­cussed on the ap­par­ently sa­cred tri­umvi­rate of nurses, gar­daí and teach­ers, as though they should be com­pletely cos­set­ted from the stark­ness of what we’re fac­ing be­cause of the ‘tough­ness’ of their jobs.

The nurses play this card more than any­one, and all right, not many of us would fancy a role where a lot of time is spent clean­ing up blood and puke and chang­ing old folk’s nap­pies. But re­mem­ber they knew as they started their train­ing that this was what lay in store - and re­mem­ber too that they’ll still have a job to go in six months or a year’s time.

There’s no such se­cu­rity though for the per­son who does the mop­ping up in the pub or night­club toi­let in­stead, or in the su­per­mar­ket aisles when some­body knocks over and breaks a jar of sauce. They have a tough job too, and also have mortgages or rent to pay and chil­dren to feed and clothe, but they could be sign­ing on next week. A se­cure job with 95 per cent of a nurse’s cur­rent salary must seem like a sweet deal to many of them, and the nurses would do well to re­mem­ber that.

Sim­i­larly with the teach­ers, most no­to­ri­ous of all dur­ing the boom years for claim­ing they were worth more money, as ap­par­ently they put in the ground­work that the Celtic Tiger was built upon. Well, they can’t have it both ways - so by their very own ra­tio­nale, they must al­most be re­spon­si­ble for the state we now find our­selves in. Per­haps they’d like to think about that in the week off that’s com­ing up for mid-term, or the two weeks they’ll have off at Easter, or even the two to three months they’ll have in the sum­mer.

They all, like the rest of us, have to re­alise that ev­ery belt in the coun­try must be tight­ened over the next few years - and like the rest of us who still have jobs, they have to be thank­ful for that too and even more so as they’re much more se­cure.

Brian Cowen pre­dicted last week that there could be 400,000 peo­ple on the dole by the end of the year - but there’s hardly one of them cur­rently mak­ing a liv­ing as a nurse or a garda or a civil ser­vant. A levy on a Stateguar­an­teed de­fined ben­e­fit pen­sion is a small price to pay for that sort of se­cu­rity.

‘Oooh, isn’t it ter­ri­ble how we had to pay to­wards our pen­sion when we had jobs to go to while oth­ers were los­ing theirs?’

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