When we say the words ‘public sector’, we all think of well-paid staff, luxurious workplaces and the happy smiles of a million joyous employees serving the state for the good of their fellow man. Yes, enter any local government building, smell the scent of jasmine, and be careful of the little birds that land on your shoulder to bid you good day.
As you’ll appreciate, not everyone in the non-private sector is so lucky. Except maybe in Saudi Arabia, where the new king has ordered a 15% hike in salaries… because he can. This means an increase of 3bn riyals (US$800m) to 6bn riyals (US$1.6bn).
King Abdullah is just three weeks into his reign after succeeding the late king Fahd as ruler of the ultra-conservative kingdom. He apparently made a commitment to “improve living conditions of the citizens and consolidate the national economy”.
What a nice chap. If that wasn’t enough to ensure a drop in turnover, he made clear the rise wouldn’t apply to government ministers and other top officials.
Gordon Brown had best be careful this news does not filter to the trade unions, who will leap on any excuse to accuse him of daylight Arab-ery when it comes to public sector pay.