The people are angry. An understatement you might say, but there is no doubt that the mood in the country has changed significantly in the last few months and people are annoyed, frustrated and close to despair. There is a palpable sense that the country is lurching from one economic crisis to another and that the proposed solutions are being made up on the hoof.
This is not surprising considering that the government, who got us into this mess in the first place, are drip feeding the facts to us in relation to the seriousness of our economic situation. Less than one in five of us actually want the government to continue in office, yet they do while embarking on a set of measures that will have economic repercussions for 10 or perhaps 20 years to come. Nevertheless, we are stuck with them until such time as they call an election (See Election 2010 ) or a couple of sitting TDs demonstrate that they have the moral fortitude required to vote against the government.
It is important to remember that the present administration were responsible for formulating and implementing the financial strategy that this country has followed over the last 13 years. It is quite obvious that the politics of putting the party first and remaining in government at all costs, has been largely responsible for the situation the country is in now. I stated as much in an interview that I did with Newstalk 106, prior to the last general election in 2006. (Newstalk interview – Click Here)
Okay, enough of the government bashing. Let us deal with the one fact that we must all face up to. We are bankrupt. There it is, in three simple words. There really is no need to bore you with extracts from the OECD or the Department of Finance or quotations from the so-called experts i.e. bankers, stockbrokers, economists etc (yes, the same people who could not see any of this coming!). No matter how you look at it or want to pretend things are not as bad as they are, you will have to accept the situation as it is.
It is quite obvious that if we are to reduce the long-term damage to our country we must act swiftly and unfortunately, brutally. There simply is no other way that the country can get back to work and become competitive internationally unless we take massive and immediate action. The problem that is facing us is that we are spending approximately 40% more per and than we are receiving in tax revenues i.e. we are spending €54 billion and taking in approximately €32 billion. This simply cannot go on indefinitely. So just like you or me if you spend more than you earn and you cannot get an increase in salary you have absolutely no option other than to cut spending and this is what the government must do. Most of the people in the society accept that spending must be cut but unfortunately there is a sizeable number of people who not seem to understand this. These are the majority of our public servants.
The unions are asking us all to go marching tomorrow to protest at any further reductions in pay, conditions (i.e. pensions) or numbers employed. It is worth noting that approximately 95% public service workers are members of a trade union where as in the private sector, this is approximately 15%. There are approximately 460,000 public service workers and this represents a very substantial and critical constituency of potential votes for any political party. This is the reason that Fianna Fail and their coalition partners have never tackled the issues that are facing us now , and have been facing for over 20 years. The monies that we all contributed to the economy in direct and indirect taxation throughout the years of the Celtic Tiger, were squandered on Benchmarking and on the massive increases in public service job numbers. How else do you think Fianna Fail would have managed their “historic” third term in office?
In my previous post Economic Civil War Revisited, I discussed what had to be done in relation to the cuts necessary in both public service numbers and their remuneration. While I will accept that a very large number of public servants are badly paid, there is a substantial number who are paid excessively well, particularly considering that we are in the throws of recession. Lower paid workers must be protected, regardless of their employer. Life is difficult enough for them as it is.
Some other facts to bear in mind when considering our public service are that
- The average salary is €56,000 per annum verses €43,000 in the private sector.
- Full-time employees are guaranteed a pension that will never reduce and will actually rise with inflation.
- Absenteeism is much higher than in the private sector.
- They have massive job security and limited accountability to their employer, the People of Ireland.
- 96% of all new mortgages this year, were given to public servants as a result of their job security.
- The unions refuse to implement backward benchmarking of salaries to private sector levels. Why?
I for one, will not be marching tomorrow. I believe that the unions in calling this day of action are playing into the hands of the government’s attempts to divide both public and private sector workers into opposing camps. It is the oldest trick in the book. If the unions were to actually be realistic, except the fact that we simply cannot afford to continue footing a €20 billion per year bill for the public service and demanded a change of government, I would gladly march. And when was the last time their proposals for job retention (if any) were implement ? And before any of the public servants start criticising me for my stand (which they are entitled to do ) , I would like to ask them to consider, would they turn out in the same numbers to protect the jobs of the people who work in the restaurant, pub, motor trade, building, manufacturing or retail industries and businesses ?
As always, your comments are requested and welcome, in the box below. And please please click in the ‘Share This Post’ button below, if you have a Facebook or other social media account. Thanks, Eamonn.
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Eamonn – Thanks Sarah.
Again watching from a distance but what I have seen of Ireland throughout the Tiger (now the celtic kitten) and the excesses it produced like Helicopters to the races etc. its staggering to me what has happened to the tax revenues produced during this period. Has it been squirrelled away by Bertie and his band of merry men into Swiss bank accounts? I see that developer(cant remember his name ) has flown the coup to Switzerland as he knows he could be hammered in an EEC country. As usual a small % managed to make millions and are now leaving the average working people to pay.
I think what’s even more of a concern is that the Opposition don’t seem to be able to capitalise on the incompetency. I have watched similar incompetency in New South Wales for the past 10 years with an irrelevant opposition unable to do do anything .
I no longer live in Ireland and left long before the ‘Celtic Tiger’ and the subsequent crash. I have been watching from a distance and like many saw that Ireland would struggle to recover from any crash. It seems to me that the people still have not faced up to the fact that thing have changed and will not ever get back to how it was three or four years ago. They are still waiting for the magic wand to make it all better and in the mean time will not accept lower wages and reduced house prices.
How is it when I enquired with a labour agency to get some casual labour for a few days for a job in Dublin I was told the going rate was 25 euro an hour! It is cheaper for me to bring labour in from the UK, flights hotels the lot.Its time to wake up, both sectors and stop trying to live in the past. Scrap the unions, they cause more harm than good, if an individual has an employment problem, go legal like the rest of us have to. Dont strangle industry its the only thing that will save you.
I would like to see this bench! Where is it?
Good article and filled with lots of facts & figures – well done! You will probably guess that I agree with all or most of what you have written – even that we need a change of Government. However, one fact still remains which you haven’t mentioned in your posting – we don’t have a bench full of reserves or suitable replacements for the group of incompetent morons currently controlling and destroying our economy, our country and our livelihoods. The obvious candidates that will run as our leaders and that will gather votes (unfortunately) are as big a bunch of numb-nuts as the ones we want rid of.
At this crucial time, the best of our public figures and politicians are not in any position of power to lead us out of this mess
Or, can you enlighten me, have you any other thoughts on this important point?
In relation to your last point, I believe that now the Country is finally awakening we will see a large increase in the number of quality independent Candidates running for election. This is Fianna Fail’s worst nightmare (think Party not Country).
Sure, you’d never know who might run…. 😉
General Election ???? Where is the alternative……
Comparing private sector income and public sector income is divisive and unfair to both.There is no private sector equivalent to what i do.
I am frontline 24/7 worker with a zero absenteeism rate and a single income family. Celtic tiger meant nothing to me. Dont try and make me feel lucky to have a job. You are the one that is lucky to have me doing this job that you did not want to do.
Thanks for the comment Greg. It is not my intention to vilify all Public service workers, particularly those like yourself who work in the ‘Front Line, 24/7’. I don’t consider you lucky to have a job, you have it because you deserve it. From my observations however, it is those that are the most dedicated and hard-working in the public service who are on the lowest rate of pay. And conversely, it is those who take the least responsibility for their actions, get the highest remuneration.
Dead right about not trying to drive a wedge between public and private sector, we have to pull together to get out of this mess. However, part of that requires addressing areas where one sector or the other has become skewed.
Not knowing exactly what you do, I’d like to point out that NOBODY works 24/7. But taking the looser defintion that I’m sure you intended, I’m very much in the private sector and have spent a fair chunk of my working life operating on a 24/7 availability basis, along I suspect with many more.
The unions accepted benchmarking in the first place and should now be benchmarked again. With or without their agreement