PUBLIC SECTOR PAY TALKS
Public Sector pay talks took place recently and the negotiations were, as always, aired on the media, with both sides firing shots over the bow of the other.
“Our members have borne the brunt of the economic recovery and now demand blah blah,” shout the Unions. “The fiscal space is unclear at this time and any concessions will need to be met by more productivity,” purrs the Government.
It’s all fairly predictable stuff played out with boring regularity by much the same representatives of entitlement classes each time. But each time too I am puzzled by the productivity word. Productivity is defined as, “The effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input.” Given that this productivity thing is always the pivot on which everything else swings, it raises a few important questions.
So, when the Government demands more productivity from employees, are they demanding a longer working week? The answer is apparently not. So are they suggesting that currently these, (hundreds of thousands), of Gov. employees are purposely slacking off and not doing the jobs they’re paid for? Well, the best you can say about that is, ‘they wouldn’t dare suggest that.’ So what portion of the so-called personal productivity is lacking? Who is being unproductive and why aren’t they named and shamed? If they are not doing their job but still picking up the money anyway are they not comparable to dole cheats? Why aren’t these unproductive leeches simply fired, as happens everywhere else? If the Government can formally make such an accusation then surely they must have hard evidence to back up their ‘productivity’ claims?
Worse again though is the fact that the Unions seem quite happy to negotiate the amount of productivity their members are willing to offer. This is akin to saying, “We know/admit that our members are withholding their efforts in the workplace but we will get them to improve if you give us this, that and the other thing.” Can you imagine your Union Rep. sitting with your manager/owner and saying, “I know he only shows up three days a week but if you agree to give him ten grand more a year, I’ll get him to come in more often?” Oh! And very importantly, there is no monitoring of either party to this debate as regards their own productivity. And yet this productivity issue is the kernel of the national debate.
Or is it? Is this whole thing a sham, a game of poker with the taxpayers money where in the end, both sides emerge claiming victory?