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September 11, 2007

Polly on Unions


But Brown had to be seen to stand firm on the core question of pay rates - he would not and could not give ground. He is right that inflation is the enemy of all and it has to be throttled at birth. But to do that over any length of time he needs consent. It is not enough to twist the arms of the only workforce under his immediate control - the public sector. If pain there has to be, it has to be seen to be shared. It has to be put into the context of growing or shrinking general equality. The profits of growth in the last decade have not been fairly shared, and now the punishment for inflation - partly fuelled by City bonuses - is also to be unfairly distributed.

So, lessee. Public sector wages have risen far faster than private sector over the past decade. Indeed, average hourly wages in the public sector are now significantly higher than those in the private sector. Actually, by round and about as much as male wages are higher than female. So, if inflation is indeed a threat, those who have done best out of the past decade should, as Polly says, be bearing the brunt of the pain necessary to deal with it, no?

September 11, 2007 in Current Affairs | Permalink


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How do you bear to read her week in week out? If I ever needed an example of market failure, it's the fact that Polly gets paid for her drivel.

Posted by: Philip Thomas | Sep 11, 2007 10:08:15 AM

There she goes, out with the old canard about City Bonuses.

She is just envious.

Posted by: Roger Thornhill | Sep 11, 2007 11:18:28 AM

Are you locked in a battle with Polly Toynbee over who can be the least statistically accurate? I think you're winning with your claim that:

Public sector wages have risen far faster than private sector over the past decade.

National Statistics suggest that the 'far' and the 'faster' are both wrong, putting it at 50% to 52% over the last decade.

Posted by: Matthew | Sep 11, 2007 12:28:22 PM


You're not taking into account the cost of pension benefits, which have rocketed in the public sector.

Neither do you account for those who most people would consider to be in the public sector but theoretically aren't - GPs are a good example. They get all their money from the government but are theoretically independent contractors. They've had huge increases.

Posted by: HJHJ | Sep 11, 2007 2:57:32 PM

OT, I know, but...Given the generosity of public sector pensions, public sector employees should not have salary or wage parity with their private sector counterparts. If they want parity, then the pensions must go; and if they want the pensions, then they must work for less than is available in the private sector.

Posted by: paul ilc | Sep 11, 2007 3:18:47 PM


Don't be silly. Tim says:

Public sector wages have risen far faster than private sector over the past decade.

It's crystal clear what's he's referring to, and it's not pension benefits (I wouldn't accept your argument anyway as there's no reason to believe the jobs in the public and private sector should be comparable, but as I said that's not Tim's argument)

Posted by: Matthew | Sep 11, 2007 3:53:49 PM