Friday, December 21, 2012

2013: A WINTER OF DISCONTENT




For the first time in my 18 years of on-again, off-again, employment with the provincial government, I might be forced onto a picket line in 2013.

In this era of government-imposed contracts and the pattern bargaining process of government legislated end to strikes, I wonder, what is the purpose of job action?

For a glimpse of the future, one only has to look back at how past governments have imposed their will on the public service. The “Clyde Lied” and “Out till the cows come home” campaigns resulted in strikers being sent back to work with empty pockets and imposed contracts.

Government has changed the rules of collective bargaining. They control the process through the heavy hand of the legislature. They give when the want too and take when the need too. 

They apply a different standard to political hires. Partisanship trumps experience, education and ability. The Public Service Commission has been all but neutered.  

Fairness, years without raises, giving up benefits to protect public pensions means nothing. It is not a matter of what has been given, but what can be stripped this time around.

The government is to blame. This current crisis, the ¾ of a Billion Dollar deficit, is the result of poor planning. It is also a construct; designed to ensure that an envious public will not support the “overpaid” public service when the government cuts to the bone.

How real is the “crisis”? While I have questioned the extent, growth, & sustainability of the current public service, there are other factors to consider.

Our government had a total of $5.5 BILLION in cumulative surpluses from 2005-06 to 2011-2012.  We have a record of $9.7 billion in Investment in 2012, a jump of 31%, with more increases in the next few years.  

The government has a two-year period of deficits before getting back to projected surpluses.  Is the sky really falling? 

This government is not worried about protecting anyone but their friends. 

The new Muskrat Falls legislation offers expansive security for Nalcor, but strips any protection for individual ratepayers. Unjustifiably high salaries for cronies are acceptable but public servants need to curb expectations.

The government is counting on the public to shrug their shoulders in apathy towards the plight of those over-paid, under-worked public servants. 

For those in the private sector, beware! 

How the government treats it’s employees will set the mood for bargaining in the private sector.

5 comments:

Wm. Murphy said...

Ya I know that Public Servnts have been "starved" for years....but you are just coming off about a 25%increase from your last contract. Not a bad deal. I don't think there was any group in the private sector to ever receive such an increase.

And please don't get on with the crap that this was because the public service have been deglected and shit on for years and they are only getting what is rightfully theirs. Whatever!!

Look at the airport strikers looking for over 35%+ increase...it's insane. A very modest increase for the public service is warranted....1-2% would seem fair in light of our financial situation. If it means a winter of discontent...so be it. I can assure you that a strike will result in a "balanced" budget for the gov't. With Dunderdale and Marshall on the way out it will only serve them well to dig in their heels and wait it out. While they do, you guys will be huddled around the barrel making your $75.00 bucks a week.

What do you think would be a fair increase Peter??

Peter L. Whittle said...

I am not sure anything above the cost of living is warranted. However the elephant in the room will be benefits. On that front, as I have stated a great deal has changed over the past few year.

Two things that I think public service workers will struggle with is the political types increasing wages for their workers and the fact that successive governments have robbed the pension funds (and not contributed). Until government repays what it owes, many are not going to be a mood to pay more.

I certainly will not be voting for job action and would have to seriously consider resigning my employment if forced to do so.

Anonymous said...

From where I sit the Gov't employees are well paid for what they are doing, already. It is about time the tax payer stand up and say enough is enough. If you don't like the pay and the benefits being offered find another job. Unions are becoming too greedy, it is high time they be reined in and striking should be abolished.

Peter L. Whittle said...

Lets just say that we agree. In fact you sort of prove my point - the tax payer is not going to back public sector employees. Creating a straw man makes for a could government strategy.

Now how do you feel about the government taking a "restraint stand" but not applying that restraint to political positions and appointments?

For example the recent revelations about senior exec salaries (and bonuses) and the significant increase in salaries in the Premier's office which comes on a significant increase for those roles in the Williams administration.

All I am saying is practice what you preach. I can respect that. What about you?

Anonymous said...

The House of Assembly should be cut in half. We needs less MHAs and more nurses!