Friday, August 18, 2006
Public Sector Pay: Back To The Seventies
Back in the days of purple flares and tanktops, public sector pay disputes routinely brought the country grinding to a halt. And his Golden Inheritance squandered, Gordo's doing his best to get us back there.
The basic problem, now as then, is that after years of plenty the money's run out. So Brown has decreed that future public sector pay settlements must not exceed 2%. At a time when RPI inflation is running at 3.3%, and average earnings at 4.3%, that means we're heading for Big Trouble.
Already prison officers have voted for strike action in contravention of their "legally binding" employment terms. And the good old tube workers are threatening to strike over virtually everything (go on, watch the vid of the superb underground song again here).
Gordo's cunning plan is to take the heat off public sector pay by rebuilding Britain's reserve army of surplus labour through mass immigration. Which is why we now have rising unemployment side by side with rising employment (there's an good article today by David Green giving more details).
But we had a reserve army in the seventies, and as we found then, with heavy unionisation it doesn't actually head off the Trouble. And while the private sector has largely broken free, in the public sector unions are still dominant.
My advice is to start stocking up on emergency supplies now. Candles and nutty slack obviously, but also Smash, Fray Bentos meat pies, and a few Slade LPs. My mum once laid in three hundredweight of granulated during the Great Sugar Scare of 1973-74.
Posted by Mike D at 8:11 am