Treason and subversion in the public sector

Watching the behaviour of the public sector unions and workers is instructive at the moment. It appears that a “work-to-rule” is being
implemented. This translates into a refusal to answer phones by staff in the HSE, various public agencies and government departments, a refusal to work on change projects within the various agencies, a refusal to cover the  normal absences of colleagues at lunch-breaks, sickness and force majeure occurrences. Now, and much more sinister, is the union instruction to boycott the elected representatives of the people who happen to be members of Fianna Fail or the Green Party or ex PDs and in the case of another union, Fine Gael also is included apparently on the belief that none of these parties would or will restore the previous pay levels in the public service.

My, obviously obsolete, impression and belief was that there was a no strike clause in the civil service as an employment condition in exchange for permanent tenure and a pension reflecting final salary and subsequent same-grade pay increases. This was a social contract between the citizen and the state. In the interests of democracy, the civil service was to be stubbornly non-party political and officials in general could not stand for public election. The civil service was answerable to the state and the parliament as reflected in the decisions of elected representatives. These representatives were re-examined on a five yearly basis by the people and returned or replaced. Thus the elected are held to account and each citizen has an equal say – one vote.

Treason is defined as a betrayal of the allegiance a person owes his country especially by attempting to overthrow the government. If the unions want to bring down the government in a defacto coup d’etat, then let them say so. If this is their intention, then after due warning by the government, all those subverting democracy should be dismissed. Should the army or Gardai (and they might) join this, then we would have anarchy and a possible coup d’etat with a police state and a military dictatorship. I do not believe this will happen but a government that causes social chaos while bailing out Anglo Irish bank is certainly provoking public anger and retribution.

The public sector unions have orchestrated a form of strike and go-slow but expect the public who pay for the services to continue to pay for these curtailed services in full. That is a cracking arrangement – a form of  financial larceny perpetrated by the self-entitled on the general public who are paying them. It is worth remembering that it is the private sector that ultimately pays the wages of those working for the state.

The danger for the public sector workers is that the unions are leading them down a blind alley. Government services can be defined precisely and the core essentials retained to be run by a central corps but the rest put  out to tender. The price ultimately paid should and would reflect national budget targets and the services contracted should have no cost overrun clauses. This would drastically reduce the numbers employed in the public service. Am I saying that there are huge inefficiencies in that service? You bet there are. Just take the explosion of Grade 8s in the HSE since the abolition of the Health Boards. I would like an independent lean study done on the administrative supertanker of the HSE and also of all public hospitals. What is the Department of Health for now? The report of Colm
McCarthy and An Bord Snip Nua should give cause for a pause for thought by sentient civil and public service unions. Otherwise they are inviting an industrial Armageddon on themselves.

It is clear that there is a belief abroad among the Trade Unions that the Labour Party will restore the cut salaries of public sector workers.
Proof of this is the exclusion of Labour from the union boycott of public representatives.

Therefore, it is important that the country gets straight answers from Eamonn Gilmore or Joan Burton without the usual politician’s obfuscation.

Question 1. Will Labour immediately restore the previous levels of public sector pay?

Question 2. If they say No right now but Yes over time – how and over what period?

Question 3. If they say Yes right now! How do they propose to deal with the consequential increase in the cost of borrowing by government in the bond market?

Question 4. Is Labour willing to tell the private sector that they should take cuts while paying increases in tax to fund the restoration of the
public sector to their rightful place in the Irish scheme of things?

Question 5. Does Labour approve or disapprove of this boycott? If it approves, why so? If not, why not?

For Fine Gael, Leo Varadkar has set out proposals for a new kind of social partnership which might reassure public sector workers. Workers will get a dividend for competent professional performance.

At a personal level, I utterly reject any claim to validity for the boycott  of public representatives of Fianna Fail and the Greens or any other
elected person. I regard this as subversion and treason and must be addressed immediately. The messing must stop now!