Adding fuel to the public/private sector pay debate, the latest official figures show that in April 2010 a public sector employee earned 7.8% more per hour than a private sector worker.
Trying to ascertain the true position with regard to pay differences between the private and public sectors has always been difficult, as this ONS video points out.
So the latest ONS statistics did, as far as possible, eliminate those factors that have traditionally skewed the figures.
Even then, the numbers, which are based on the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) and the Labour Force Survey still do not account for such things as pension contributions, company vehicles and health insurance. It also does not cover self employment.
So even after levelling the statistical playing field somewhat the public sector comes out ahead of the private sector. With pensions added to the mix this makes the public sector a good place to be. Not something the unions will want to hear about so soon after their one day strike over pay and pensions.
The public sector and its unions may say that society needs them and the best people in them. And that the economic mess was not their fault anyway.
But as we have found out much of the public services and associated jobs were constructed on the sand of deep debt and arguably should not have been put there in the first place without a solid tax base to support it. If we cannot afford it this recession how can we afford it in the next one?
Added to that many of the public sector workers also benefitted from the cheap finance available to buy houses, cars and holidays.
We are all in this together because we only heard the call of the siren bankers and politicians who led us to believe that the time of milk and honey was upon us. And sadly, too few of us asked the really hard questions.
So none of us should expect ‘someone else’ to pick up the tab, especially our children and grandchildren.
One would hope that we have learned our lesson but, looking back I history, we will probably follow the same path again. A new boom with bankers and politicians again saying ‘it’s different this time’ and the people as ever taking the easy path and not asking questions.