Public sector staff need to stop bleating on about pay

At the risk of an avalanche of criticism, I feel compelled to write in regarding your special issue on public sector pay (Personnel Today, 25 March).

As someone who works in the private sector, it gets my goat the way public sector workers bleat on about their pay and conditions. The mentality that public sector workers are on a worse deal than those in the private sector does not hold true for most private sector workers. The City ‘fats cats’ with their massive bonuses are as envied by private sector workers as those in the public sector.

In fact, just reading through the job pages emphasises that public sector pay isn’t too shoddy. Was I the only one who read ‘Who Earns What’ on page 24 and thought it’s not great but compared to most people I know, it’s average or even above average.

But consider some of the benefits of being in the public sector:

  • Equal pay is being enforced, unlike the private sector.
  • Learning and development opportunities. I am studying for my CIPD qualification, and only two out of a class of 28 came from the private sector.
  • Access to final salary pension schemes compared with just 15% of private sector employees with a final salary pension.
  • The right to retire at 60 when the reality is that private sector employees will be retiring at 70, if they can afford it.

Base salary is one thing, but public sector workers please consider the worth of all those benefits – especially the final salary pension scheme – and your pay is more fair than you think.

A 2% or 2.5% pay rise for anyone is disgusting, especially given the hard (and essential) work those in public service do and the rising costs of living, but before public sector workers start shouting ‘woe is me’ consider a thought for all those workers in the private sector who work equally hard and face the same living cost increases who will have their pay frozen or even reduced when organisations face tough times.

The government has overspent when it should have put something away for a rainy day and it’s not just the public sector that is facing uncertain times in terms of pay reducing in real terms and uncertainty of job security.

And since I’m going to get rocks thrown at me anyway, I get the feeling that if you work in the private sector somehow the skills, qualifications and work you do is considered valueless to our society compared to those who work in the public sector, and therefore doesn’t merit the same emphasis on fair pay. But just consider for a moment why we are able to enjoy the great public services that we do… is it not because of the contribution that the private sector makes to the government coffers?

I think I’d better go and don my personal safety equipment now.

Carrie Foster

People development manager


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