Posts Tagged ‘labour’
As with any situation involving the unions, it’s always difficult to know who is telling the truth when there are two contradictory stories being told.
Regarding the public sector pension scheme, which the government has made a number of changes to, we are told by the unions that the government haven’t been negotiating properly while the government have insisted that negotiations are ongoing and labelled their offer as “generous”.
But the conduct of the government in recent days gives some indication as to how seriously they’re treating the issue. David Cameron has been accused by Labour of “spoiling for a fight” and did little to disprove such an accusation with a quite dismissive remark labelling the strikes as “a damp squib”
The pension strike has appeared to be the last thing on the David Cameron’s mind in recent weeks, with very little intent shown by the prime minister to agree on a deal.
In the meantime, random figures have been conjured up by Danny Alexander in attempts to reduce support for those taking industrial action by predicting its effect on the economy. Judging by the huge increase in the number of shoppers in cities throughout the country, he needn’t have worried.
It seemed to be yet another method of belittling hundreds of thousands of hard-working people in important jobs who will be severely impacted when the government’s new public sector pension plans kick in next spring, and the contempt shown to those workers by fellow government members highlight exactly how the likes of teachers and health professionals are viewed by the coalition.
Going back to the “generous” offer, it remains a mystery how an offer which involves paying significantly more money for a longer period of time in order to get less out of it is “generous”. When all of that is on top of pay cuts and/or pay freezes, high taxes and a cost of living which is constantly rising, and low interest rates that affect any ability to save for retirement through alternative plans, is it any wonder that the unions are in complete unity in fighting against the governments revised pension terms?
On top of the rhetoric coming from cabinet ministers, Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat Party president claimed that most workers’ pensions would be “better, or certainly no worse” under the new plans. How such a conclusion is reached, who knows?
And that is the problem. In all of the government’s claims over their generosity, they have released no details of exactly what their generous offer is, which make it hard to believe that there even is one.
Many people’s perceptions of the coalition are of a government who cannot be trusted.
The way in which they’ve handled the pensions situation is unlikely alter any such perceptions.
The Labour Party are in Liverpool for their annual conference, and are already making headlines.
But is the announcement of their policy on student fees one of the most pointless headlines they could have generated?
Ed Miliband’s party would apparently limit student fees to £6,000-a-year. But only if they were in power and made the decision now.
The fact is that they are not in power, and have no chance of being in government for more than 3 1/2 years. By which time, they make no guarantee that they’ll still hold the same tuition fee policy anyway.
Considering that Labour’s stance has been announced almost a year after the coalition government voted to raise fees, and any new views Labour have on the subject are virtually meaningless, the question which has to be asked is: Just what was the point?
The recent news that the government has scrapped a news NHS IT system has unsurprisingly caused a lot of anger.
Not anger caused as a result of abandoning a project which has been doomed to fail for some time, but anger at the amount of money thrown away on the scheme already.
Of the £12bn total cost of the system, at least £2.7bn of public money had been spent as of last month.
It’s a huge amount of money under any circumstances, but particularly so when the economy is struggling and when a process of cutting NHS staff is already underway.
To illustrate the scale of the waste, it would be enough to pay a £25,000-a-year salary to 21,000 NHS workers. For five years.
In most sectors of employment, the people most responsible for making such catastrophic decisions would find themselves looking for work, probably nursing a severely damaged reputation. Something which seems not to apply to those running the country.
Sure, we’re all capable of making mistakes, and we can’t expect our MPs to be perfect. They have difficult jobs, despite half of the country believing they could do better.
But when mistakes are made by a government on such a scale, is it not right that those at fault are held to account rather than carrying on regardless, taking no responsibility?
It was a similar story with the failed FireControl project which intended to replace local rescue control rooms with nine regional control centres across the country.
Only one has been used, with the rest lying empty but still costing £4m a month to maintain. Almost £500m will have been wasted on the project in total.
Again there is no-one being held accountable for the disastrous outcome, and highlights how utterly untouchable those in government currently are.
Parliament endorsed prison sentences for looters involved in the rioting, though when many MPs themselves were guilty of theft – though obviously not officially described as such – they offered a quiet apology, gave back some of what they had taken, and then hoped for the fuss to die down. Which it duly did. Only two MPs found themselves jailed.
It’s time that our MPs were treated the same way as any regular person on the street when they get things so badly wrong.
And not many of us would stand a chance of getting away with explaining to the boss that we’d just wasted £3bn of company money.