In the light of the public sector strike today I can do no better today than to repeat the post I wrote on the day of the last public sector strike in June:
I find most of the press and political commentary with its scapegoating of public sector workers frankly offensive. It seems that much of the political class (which includes the journalistic community) rather than address the real problems in the economy, which are to be found in the financial and banking system, are intent instead on waging a class war against the country’s most dedicated workers most of whom are absurdly low paid for the work they do.
Public sector workers are in no sense responsible for the present crisis and have had to face wage and recruitment freezes for almost as long as I can remember. A friend of mine who works in a critically important department of the Revenue, which deals with tax fraud, told me today that because of a wage and recruitment freeze that has been going on for years the staff are not only absurdly overworked and underpaid but also do not include a single worker under 35 so that when the current workforce retires there will be no one with the knowledge or experience to take its place. Two other friends of mine, who have the critically important jobs of teaching in universities, work in a profession where wages have stood still since 1970 so that real incomes have steadily fallen.
Let me say it clearly that the work that public sector workers do is the toughest, most necessary and most underappreciated that is done in the country. If public sector workers were permanently to withdraw their labour the entire country would come to a stop in a way that is true of no other group of workers. Public sector workers are not responsible for the economic crisis. It is beyond unfair that they should be expected to pay a disproportionate share of the burden now that things have gone wrong especially when those who caused the crisis continue to be so grotesquely over rewarded in spite of what they have done. Speaking for myself but also I think for many others I say that the public sector workers who are striking today deserve full support in their strike and from me at least they have it.