The Public/Private sector divide. A few thoughts on the proposed localisation of pay agreements.

Apparently this government will announce the end of nationally agreed pay in the public sector, to be replaced by local and “zonal” agreements. (Guardian article.) I don’t think this will happen. I think that either the government will realise just how unmanageable this plan is or, if not, the public will make sure it doesn’t happen. I hope I’m right.

The argument that this will further increase the gap between well-off and deprived areas has already been made else where. This point is so obvious that I am not sure how the government can ignore or refute it. I would also add that the principle of equal pay for equal work is now fairly well embedded. This proposed policy will cut through this and undermine the little progress in equality we have made.

The government are living in a bubble ( a statement of the obvious I know) and don’t even seem to realise that this policy contradicts its own alleged policies and beliefs. Any pretence that the coalition is motivated by anything other than cost cutting go out of the window.

Firstly, the government does not seem to have noticed that, because of their policies and those of previous governments, the division between the public and the private sectors are becoming increasingly blurred. Will the pay of a private nurse, employed by a private company to fulfil a public need, be affected. Will a head of an academy, wanting to attract the best teachers and educational experts, be able to offer more or will they too be restricted? Will a charity, running a public service (eg NSPCC, employing a social worker) be affected?

Even the government must realise that the poorest regions of the country are the most deprived and have the most complex health and educational needs. What incentives will there be to bring the best teachers, nurses, doctors etc to these more challenging areas. Ironically, I am sure that private sector employers, attracted by tax breaks and incentives to move to certain areas, will be offering beneficial packages to encourage the best skilled workers and managers away from the south east.

The government also seem to believe that public sector and private sector works live in isolation, running their own economies. I know of many women working in schools whose partners work in the private sector. In some cases they are subsidising their partners starting their own small business.

The answer of course is a living wage for all across the private and public sectors.





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