|Photo from the Guardian|
So, today a lot of public sector workers went on strike, and quite a few didn't. Public sector workers are doctors, nurses, firemen, policemen, teachers, library assistants, dustmen, civil servants, dinner ladies, school caretakers, social workers etc. They are the people that provide so many services that we rely on. If we want reliable public servants they need to be paid a reasonable wage. After all, you get what you pay for.
Some of those public sector workers don't earn enough to be able to buy a house, some are quite comfortably off and others, the bosses, earn very high sums indeed. This is a reflection of the private sector. Some private sector workers are not paid enough to live on, some are OK and others earn more than I would know how to spend.
This is a wider reflection of our society in general, which is not a fair society, in fact the inequalities are growing more than in most developed countries. Some people are paid much more than they are worth and some people's work is not given it's proper value. I'm not suggesting that we should all be paid the same, but we need to start to realise as a society that it is not good for anyone when some people get paid obscene amounts while others aren't even given a living wage.
|Photo from the Telegraph|
It does not seem that the extra money these people will pay for their pensions will go into a pension fund to secure the future of their pensions, but directly into government coffers, which could make it seem like a tax on people who work as public servants, historically at least, at a lower wage than they could expect in the private sector because helping others was more important to them than earning high sums.
Once, it seemed like a good idea for government to be an example of best practice when it came to valuing their workers, ensuring them a decent pension and treating them fairly. Instead of leading the way, this government seems to be trying to make it easier for businesses to treat their employees unfairly and without respect.
We are in a recession, it is true, but the language used about public sector workers has at times made them sound like they are sponging off 'hard-working tax-payers' rather than being 'hard-working tax-payers' themselves in most cases, many of who are willing to go the extra mile because they care about their patients, pupils or the others they serve in the course of a day's work.
Yes, I do work in the public sector myself, but only part-time, and I didn't work while my children were young, so I can't expect much of a work pension. I work because I enjoy helping people and because it's nice to have some money I can call my own.
The other side of all this is how we spend our money. Do we try to buy as much as possible with our hard-earned cash, or do we try to balance our needs with the amount of good we can do with that cash? Do we try to support the local economy, organic farmers or buy Fairtrade? Do we think about the impact our purchases have on the environment and on those who helped to produce what we buy? Do we think carefully about the impact our purchases have on us and our loved ones?
Are we more concerned with our entitlement than with others' needs? If we have enough, can we give something to help those less well off than ourselves?
|Photo from BBC|
We may have a government which doesn't seem to care about struggling individuals, fairness or the environment, but we can use each pound in our pocket to vote for a better world. Money has a voice of its own, which seems to be the only one the Tories understand, indeed it is the voice governments of all persuasions seem to listen to most. It is no use saying we want a fairer society and a more sustainable way of doing things if we don't act and spend our money in a way that bears that out. Governments are led by what we do, not what we say, as are businesses: if we buy it, they will continue to make it. Let us use the money we have, wisely, it is more powerful than we may realise.