Posted tagged ‘government’

Today I strike

November 30, 2011

because...

Today I will be standing on a picket line.

But why?

Instead of giving you the Union line, or trying to make sense of what the media and politicians are saying, I thought I would give you the reasons of one simple local government officer as to why I’m striking.  This isn’t the view of the whole Local Government workforce, it isn’t even the views of all the WLLG crew, but it is why I’ll be outside my office and not in it.

So my reasons:

Pensions    

A while back a colleague put forward an argument that the difficulty with this strike from a Local Government point of view is that our scheme is noticeably different to the other public sectors schemes.  They are right.  Importantly our scheme is funded.  Though this isn’t a reason not to strike.

The pension negotiations have been going on between Government and the Unions for about a year.

Both sides seem to have recognised that the LGPS scheme should be dealt with differently.  However, like the other schemes we will be affected by these proposals.  Though I haven’t made my mind up about career salary average based pensions, it is clear we will have to pay more.  But really this isn’t the issue for me.  I’m of an age where 65 seems a long way away; I’ve kind of accepted that by the time I reach that age my pension will change due to politics, economics and population.

The issue instead for me is the stance the Government seems to be taking.

The constant message from them seems to be that the public sector is lazy, expensive and crippling the country.  The Government seemed to start these pension negotiations on the attack (changing, with little consultation, our pension increase linked to the CPI instead of the RPI).  Negotiations have been going on for a year and little has changed (alright there are two parties in any negotiations, but you see the point?).  This doesn’t feel like they want to change our pensions because of Lord Hutton’s report or the economy, it feels, to me at least, more like an attack on both our pensions and pay.

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The politics of an ever decreasing budget

June 9, 2011

But the worst is still to come

Prior to the local government elections in May there was a popular conceit running around the British press. This went something along the lines of:

‘Members of the public will only really get their head around the cuts once they start to really hit in April 2011.’

This in turn led to the general sense that the Government had survived the worst of the ‘cuts backlash’ when they, or at least the Conservative Party, got through the local elections unscathed. The commentators were, in this case, wrong.

I don’t want to argue that the cuts have not come. There have been cuts, and in some places the cuts have been quite heavy. I talk to colleagues/friends in the third sector who have seen quite large cuts in funding and some councils have been quite vocal about the cuts they need to make.

However, the cuts in April 2011 were in many ways just a prelude to what is yet to come. The reasons are multiple but most of it has to do with the way the local government budget works and the way the cuts were structured.

The announcement of the cuts was not made until October 2011.

This left local authorities less than three or four months to put their budget in place. Some had been prepared for the scale of the cuts but most of them were surprised by the front loading and the depth of the cuts in years one and two.

So what did some councils do?

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