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Public sector pay. Here’s a stat you don’t read every day! November 28, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Along with the weekend political poll, noted here, the SBP and RedC polled some opinions on other issues of the moment. Under this headline:

Poll shock: voters back public sector pay hikes over tax cuts

And what were the details of this shocking news?

Almost two in three voters are willing o accept smaller tax cuts to fund the cost of the full public pay restoration.

The results of the latest SBP/Red C poll also who that almost half of all voters are willing to put up with a reduced spend on public services and infrastructure to fund higher public sector wages.


The results will cause alarm in the government which ashy even trying to hold the line against demand from public sector unions for faster pay restoration. They come as the government is preparing to enter discussions with eh ICTU on a new public sector pay deal.

And the report notes that 62% of voters support full public pay restoration. 48% support rises ‘even if it meant lower spending on infrastructure’ and 47% ‘supported pay rises even if it meant a lower spend on public services’.

It continues:

It is a sign that the support for public sector pay restoration is much deeper than has previously been thought. And it cuts across costal class. Around 67% of ABC1 voters and 58% of lower income C2D2 voters are willing to take adduced USC cut to fund higher public pay’.

So, what to make of it… for what it’s worth I think it points to a couple of basic facts. Such a meal was made by the right and the orthodoxy about public sector pay in the last decade that when pay cuts were imposed and conditions altered for the worse that was… well, public. But, conversely, a certain sense of fair play also appears to be at work – that having taken the hit (and restoration not being restitution of lost wages) now it is time to revisit this. And then, and this is something I think that the media and orthodoxy have ignored at their peril, most people, across those social classes (by the way, can I inject yet again my continual dislike of ABC1 categories as offering a serious analytical tool for understanding the attitudes amongst social classes, they are advertising categories and hardly fit for purpose) know PS workers. They’re brothers, daughters, mothers, sons, cousins and so on. And it’s not just the PS but the broader sectors where there is some form of state funding. There’s a basic realisation that people need reasonable wages – often those wages are the only guaranteed income coming into workers homes.

Perhaps the orthodoxy should tread a little more carefully when deploying the rhetoric it so often does about the PS. Someone’s not buying it. Much of the public clearly isn’t.


1. irishelectionliterature - November 28, 2016

Not one bit surprised , the support the Gardai, teachers got was encouraging. I also think the increase TD’s and Senators got, pissed a lot of people off. At the same time as getting a 5k rise the government (and FF) were calling for pay restraint. The difference such a rise would make to most public sector workers would be sizeable.


2. Joe - November 28, 2016

Was it Ar Scáth a Chéile who mentioned the Marian Finucane programme on another thread? It really is a programme that one should avoid if at all possible for the sake of one’s mental health. But of course I listened to it on the weekend, actually the same discussion involving Whelan of the Lawyers and Fidel and rugby. Public sector pay came up and I waited for the onslaught. And there was a discussion around whether public sector pay was the reason for the crash of 2008. Marian it seemed was going to argue that it was, she said she brought it up with Cowen at the time and he brushed her off. It seemed to me that they hesitated and thought better of it – the onslaught didn’t really come. Maybe that’s an indication of the trend evident in that opinion poll too.
It brought me back to 2008 and how I saw how the bubble of unbridled gombeen gamble capitalism had burst. And I naively held that capitalists – bankers, developers, entrepreneurs – were to blame. Only to open up my newspaper to discover that it was the public service that done it. Yes those bastard teachers and cops and librarians and the rest – they were the ones that did it and they were the ones who were going to pay for it. And I remember a conversation with a neighbour where he parroted the outrage of the media about the public service – oblivious, it seemed, to the fact that most of the people he was talking to were public servants.
I thought we’d be hearing more of the same now those public servant bastards are due to be getting some of their pay back, but maybe this time people won’t buy that line. Here’s hoping.


CMK - November 28, 2016

It’s heartening to see the narrative against the public sector fall flat. The intensity of the orthodoxy has not dimmed but the law of diminishing returns seems (finally) to have set in.

I think many people in the private sector are seeing their pay, terms and conditions worsen in a context where rents are sky-rocketing to really unsustainable levels and mortgages are completely unattainable for anyone on a modest income.

There are deep, intractable problems in the economy that are seriously compromising the quality of life of millions; mainly related to pay and deteriorating living conditions. People can see that all of the attacks of the media on public sector workers hasn’t led to improvements for anyone else. Indeed, the contrary is the case.


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