Monday, 5 July 2010

Let's Wage War

The Coalition’s decision to publish a quango rich list is seemingly another tick against their ‘progressive’ credentials. How dare some poxy civil servant earn more than our beloved Prime Minister! Just as well Cameron’s already a millionaire – otherwise he might only be able to afford one holiday home in the South of France. But this debate isn’t an attack on greed or inequality – it’s an ideologically motivated campaign against the public sector. After all, why not attack bankers or expose excessive wages in the private sector?

The logical assumption of these revelations is that overpaid bosses in quangos, the public sector and local government will be on the chopping block ahead of frontline workers – but this quite clearly isn’t the case. For instance, Brighton & Hove City Council are already recruiting four Strategic Directors (£125 000 pa) to carry out ‘efficiency savings’ whilst departments make massive budget cuts. How many stories in the paper have you seen about ‘wasteful’ public programmes helping the old, vulnerable and disabled? Not very many – but you can rest assured they’ll be cut ahead of the Senior Management.

The public sector is attacked by Conservative critics for not being subject to market forces. It is also attacked for paying high wages in order to attract private sector high-flyers and remain competitive. But both of these viewpoints are mutually exclusive. Hence, the only consistency in the Coalition’s view of the public sector is that they wish to undermine it.

That is not to say that we don’t need to debate wage inequality, but the current debate is subjective and confused. We should be campaigning for transparency in the public sector – but we should demand it in the private sector too. We should be looking at parity between public and private sectors to ensure the public sector can attract the best talent. We should also be looking at decreasing the gap between the lowest and the highest paid in organisations. For instance, why not limit the wage of the best paid person in an organisation to ten times that of the lowest paid? If a cleaner earns £12, 000 pa, is it unreasonable to expect a Chief Executive to exist on a measly £120, 000? If the Chief Executive feels aggrieved then they can fight for a higher wage – this would have the pleasant effect of increasing the cleaner’s wage accordingly. This would help reduce division and promote a sense of community and unity within organisations.

No comments:

Post a Comment