Monday, 15 November 2010

A Fragile Balancing Act

This Wednesday John Swinney, Scotland's Finance Secretary, will present his 2010-11 budget statement, in which he intends t make £900 million of spending cuts next year, to the Scottish Parliament.  The draft budget is well documented and we're informed public service workers earning over £21,000 will be asked to take a pay freeze although council tax will be frozen again for the fourth year.

This weekend trade unions have dropping hints they intend to ballot their members on industrial action but Mr Swinney argues that salaries account for 55% of Scottish government spending and a pay freeze would save £300 million, the equivalent of 10,000 jobs.  Councils have already decided to implement a two-year pay freeze.

Ale McLuckie, GMB Scotland's senior organiser, said: "This would actually be a cut in living standards for working people in Scotland.  Public sector workers are paying the price for the crisis that was caused through the behaviour of bankers."  At times these union bosses do more harm than good and this statement doesn't help their cause.  The Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association aren't happy either.

Isn't it time public sector employees realised there are private sector workers who have been subject to pay restraints for a couple of years now, yet they know, without co-operating with their employers, they could well be unemployed.

It's inevitable that the unionist London-based parties will do nothing to help the SNP defend living standards in Scotland, so this budget is sure to be heavily criticised, although the Tory finance spokesman, Derek Brownlee, welcomed the freeze and called for it to be extended for at least another year:
“We would rather people were in work with a pay freeze than out of work with no freeze at all. It is the only way to help Scotland out of Labour’s mess,” he said.
If anyone can do a balancing act between fairness and the austere measures, imposed on us by the Westminster Parliament, John Swinney can.  I wish him good luck.



Weekend Yachtsman said...

They had better just suck it up.

Here in the private sector (which pays their wages, as they always seem to forget), we have had no pay rises the last two years and have just been informed we won't be getting one this year either.

Sauce for the goose...

Otherwise things will get ugly, I think.

William said...

"Isn't it time public sector employees realised there are private sector workers who have been subject to pay restraints for a couple of years now"

The same private sector workers who would have enjoyed pay rises and bonuses in the good years, presumably.

So, because some private sector workers have the cold they should be allowed to sneeze on everyone else.

I actually think a pay freeze for public sector workers is legitimate. I just don't buy the argument that the pay and conditions of private sector workers comes into it. It's either justified on its own merits or, er, it isn't.

I don't think Swinney will mention the 'arc of prosperity' - or the 'arc of bankruptcy' as it's now known.

subrosa said...

I hope they will Weekend Yachtsman. Don't know anyone who works in the private sector who's had a pay rise for the past couple of years as you say.

Then again, I don't know any top NHS managers or civil servants who get bonuses.

Mcgraw said...

Me neither iv'e had no pay rise for 2 years.
It's an employers market at the moment.
Why should I pay more tax to the over subscribed, inefficient, and lazy public sector.

subrosa said...

William, the majority of the private sector earn less than public sector workers. Why do you think so many people are always pleased to get a job in the public sector?

It's the private sector which creates the economy William. The public sector spend their taxes. Where do you think our expenditure comes from? It's certainly not the taxes of the public sector alone.

I mentioned the private sector because there pay is relevant when discussing public sector pay.

Is Norway bankrupt? Didn't know that.

William said...

”William, the majority of the private sector earn less than public sector workers. Why do you think so many people are always pleased to get a job in the public sector?”

I don’t accept this. Even if I did, you’re basically saying that private sector workers are underpaid so everyone should be underpaid. If private sector workers have seen their pay and conditions eroded over the years, I see no sense in arguing that it would be good for the economy for everyone’s pay and conditions to be eroded.

”It's the private sector which creates the economy William.”

What does that even mean in a modern society? The entire economy is so complex and inter-dependent that I doubt anyone – especially an economist – would be able to tell us who creates wealth and were.

What I do know is that ‘taxes are the price you pay for a civilized society.’ A working public sector, a proper infrastructure is a necessity for any wealth creation. If any man doubt this, let him start off in a tent in Mogadishu and see how far he gets by his own efforts. A civilized society costs money. A functioning political, economic, financial, social and legal system costs money.

”Is Norway bankrupt? Didn't know that.”

The last bit of flappy skin.

Even the NatBrats have to concede it's all gone horribly wrong or are they still clinging to the hope that the combined brains of Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney would have carried the nation to unimagined wealth? Meh.

JRB said...

I find it sad to see how the present financial climate, and the political ideology on how it should be handled, has so divided our society.

Private sector workers set against public sector workers, both against those in receipt of welfare benefit.
All the while politicians and bankers laugh as their income and pension funds just grow and grow.

It is an interesting, if not somewhat amusing, coincidence, that today as we consider this topic the British Bankers Association are in talks about limiting their forthcoming bonuses to only £4billion.

“We would rather people were in work with a pay freeze than out of work with no freeze at all.”

… now, try putting that proposal to the bankers – then both public and private sector workers might be more sympathetic.

Mcgraw said...

A lot of private sector firms don't even give anual pay rises IBM for example.
You have to ask.
It's called producing results in the private sector.
Only the worthwhile get a rise.
And high taxes don't neccesarily make a stable society as a lot of the money is wasted by the the bloated public sector.
Too much tax stifles progress and curtails investment.
Also the over regulation of business which is really all about non job creation for the public sector ties businesses up in red tape reducing there efficiency further.

William said...

"It's the same old song/but with a different beat/since you've been gone."

My great friends The Four Tops once said this.

In January 1968, Panorama hosted a programme about the forthcoming spending cuts in the Budget. They asked a selection of the public where they thought the axe should fall -

Member of public - “I think one of the biggest cuts could come in the National Health Service. Certainly the re-introduction of prescription charges.”
Member of public - “I think they should cut the children’s allowance down because the children aren’t getting the money. The parents go to bingo, they smoke, half the children don’t get the money.”
Member of public - “I’d be the last one to say that someone who can ill-afford it should be put off but at the same time I think we’re being ridiculous the way we’re handing out money at home and to foreign countries who don’t appreciate it.”
Member of public - “We’re not really a major power anymore. I feel we could do without spending money on atomic bombs and so on.”
Member of public - “I feel we should bring our troops home from Germany rather than spend so much money over there.”
Member of public - “Cut the civil service even though I’m in it. Cut the civil service by 10%. There are a lot of unnecessary departments.”

You could play 'spending cuts bingo' there. Here we are, 42 years later, the same targets are seemingly still in need of being cut - the 'bloated' public sector, the NHS, certain benefits, defence spending (Trident) and foreign aid.

Meanwhile, in the real world, as JRB says, the real crooks are trousering millions and ordering 'trebles all round'.


Strathturret said...

Yes good luck to John Swinney - a good man with a tough job.

Oldrightie said...

Meanwhile, in the real world, as JRB says, the real crooks are trousering millions and ordering 'trebles all round'.
Not just the "real" world. Fantasy land EU are pretty rich from fraud and illegal accountancy. How many years without a signed of, legal budget?

Look no further for global malfeasance and the billions lost. The SNP should unite with UKIP. That would be some force for good!

Joe Public said...

So, we're all agreed then:

Those Scotsmen Brown & Darling were the cause of both the Public & the Private Sector financial problems.

subrosa said...

It will be an employers market for a very long time Mcgraw, I'm sad to say.

subrosa said...

No I'm not saying that William. Private sector workers are paid what they're worth to the specific business.

I should have said 'creates the wealth'. My apologies. Do public sector workers create wealth? Do they manufacture anything and have the problems with exports etc? Unfortunately, these days in Scotland we manufacture very little and without Scotch we would be a much poorer nation.

Yes of course we should pay taxes, but there has to be a balance. I pay taxes but it's the indirect taxes which are quietly reducing my quality of life. Fortunately I don't want or need much these days and I don't drive hundreds of miles a week anymore, but if I did need to do so I couldn't afford it.

People who believe in independence have never believed that I'm sure. But what I do know is that Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney have proved to have common sense (with the exception of following silly windmill policies). They show a quality which is respected by voters of many persuasions.

So you'd prefer to have yer Andy haundlin this budget? Meh.

subrosa said...

Yes it is sad John but there's also the fact that while we argue amongst ourselves, the politicians are being let off the hook about the bankers' issues.

The excuse that the banks can't be pulled into line because they'll go abroad is a red herring, but we've swallowed it so far.

The wealthy just love to see the hoi polloi squabbling. The real focus is then deflected.

subrosa said...

Wasn't that always the way with IBM Mcgraw? It's a long time since I shared a flat with someone who worked for them but it was always said IBM was a fair employer.

Once again it comes down to worth and balance. All of us think we're worth more in financial terms. As we age then we become worth less and less, unless of course we're part of the banking or political classes.

The best way to judge your worth is to work for yourself. Whatever you offer will only be bought if it's the right price.

subrosa said...

Good comment William. Successive governments have bloated certain departments and thus they become the first targets for cuts.

History repeats itself I learned when young. Now I know that's a true statement.

subrosa said...

Politicians have the right to bring the bankers into line OR, at least until our money is returned, but they choose not to do so.

I've never looked any further. :) As for uniting with UKIP, somehow I can't see that as a relationship which would survive.

subrosa said...

Certainly the past 13 years haven't helped Joe, but the fact Scotland doesn't have a strong manufacturing base doesn't help either. Then there's our education standards but I won't go there. :)

Dark Lochnagar said...

Rosie, get down the bookies with this.

1) Council tax still to be frozen with individual councils making agreements instead of Cosla
2)Local Authorities to get same share of cake
3) NHS to get same increase as in England.
4) Higher education to get drastic cuts
5) Massive efficiency savings for bureaucrats in the NHS and civil service.

You heard it here first!

subrosa said...

Hey thanks DL. I agree with it all except the NHS rise, unless a radical overhaul of the way money is used.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

What do you get when the loving stops and the house keeping money is squandered?

The f-cking stops and the alimony negotiations start - end of.

Anything else is semantics.

subrosa said...

Oh RA, great analogy. Spot on.

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