While filling his own pockets with our money, Bill ‘Double Dipton’ English is threatening public sevants with a five-year pay freeze – with inflation, that’s a 10% pay cut. The government can afford to give its workers small cost of living adjustments – the cost is relatively trivial.
Parliament workers recently rejected an offer that would have locked in zero pay increases an reduced redundancy provisions. DHBs are trying to impose zero percent on the nurses. Negotiations at several other government bodies look set to fail as management seeks to enforce the unofficial pay freeze and workers demand a cost of living adjustment. There is a possibility that the government will soon face industrial action across a number of ministries and departments.
The government may find quickly just how hard it is to govern without so-called bureaucrats, and how much free over-time a lot of them do, when they go on strike or start working to rule. I expect that the PSA will accompany any widespread strike action with a campaign similiar to the “Not ‘De-necessary'” campaign in Queensland to show public the human face of the public service.
Eventually, the government will have to bend.
But that’s just the immediate effect. English’s attempt to cut public servants’ pay will have long-term effects. Already, public service wages are lower than equilivant private sector jobs (anyone who says otherwise doesn’t know what they’re talking about). People go into public service and take lower pay because they want their work to contribute to the wider good. But that alturism only runs so deep. National’s policy of treating public servants like crap and cutting their wages will drive good people out of public service and into the private sector.
Ultimately, if English persists with trying to cut the workers’ pay, he will downgrade both the quality and morale of the public service. Just like last time they were in government, National is trying to put us on a path that leads to a less efective, less efficent government, and then we all lose.