Comment: A Dilemma and a Danger

Paul Hutcheon wrote an interesting article in the Herald yesterday.

Now I don’t often pay that much notice, or even agree with, much that is ever written in the Herald but I agree with some of this article. The premise of the article is the continuing debate around teachers pay. Teachers are demanding a 10% pay increase from the Scottish Government which would bring them in line with College Lecturers for example. Paul Hutcheon points out that:

“Consider the consequences of the unions’ pay demand. If this increase was agreed, headteachers on £60,000 a year would enjoy a 10% boost, while the council workers who clean their offices would get 3%. Put another way, the same head would be better off by £6,000 a year, but a low paid worker on £20,000 would see her pay rise by only £600. Such an outcome would struggle to pass the fairness test”.

Now as a public sector worker I will admit I have a stake in this debate about public sector pay but I have issues with the stance that the teaching union is taking and the risk it poses to the wider public sector. Everyone in the public sector deserves a pay rise, there is absolutely no doubt about that. However, within the public sector teachers have some of the best pay and conditions around. Teachers have a difficult job, I accept that, but is their job more difficult than the men and women who care for our elderly, is it more difficult than the youth workers who work with some of the most difficult young people, the ones the teachers can’t or won’t work with. Is a teachers job worth 7% more than a worker who looks after looked after children, or who cleans the hospitals and schools, it isn’t.

I also accept that we place different values on different job and roles, it’s life and it will always be that way, the way we do this I disagree with but it is what it is. However, should the SNP award teachers more than the rest of the public sector then they are on very shaky ground. Fairness is a mantra of the SNP, as is increasing pay so that many people, many in the public sector, are not relying on food banks or benefits to get through the month and a result of that policy is that many in the public sector support the SNP, myself included. However, if the SNP break that social contract then I will reconsider my vote in future because if we can’t trust them to treat people fairly then why are they any different from the yoon parties at the end of the day. Now I work with teachers on a daily basis, and like all fields there are some good and some bad, they would say the same about me. But they are not worth 7% more than the rest of the public sector, they are also represented by a union that has traditionally in my opinion offered little or no solidarity with the rest of the public sector, if I’m being honest I don;t have a huge amount of respect for the teaching profession when it comes down to things like this.

Now I would love a decent pay rise, it would be such a change from the crap I and many others, including teachers, have had to endure since 2008 but not at the cost that it breaks the social contract. If anyone should get 10% it’s those in the public sector who earn the least, the care workers, the men and women who keep our towns and cities clean, often the most physically demanding jobs that the public sector has. If I can give any advice to the SNP it’s don’t break that social contract, even if teachers go on strike, do not award teachers more than the rest of the public sector because if you do, you will lose the next election and people will return to Scottish Labour and the other parties. If you give up the mantra of fairness then you will have given up a lot of what many admire and support within the SNP.

Now personally I want the return of all sovereignty to Scotland, and as quickly as possible, but if the SNP split the public sector in the ways in which the different parts are treated then I am sorry you will lose my vote because you will have become no different than the others and I will not support a party that does that, any party, even if it means I no longer vote in anything other than another indy ref. The SNP should not underestimate the level of feeling about this issue within the public sector.

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12 Responses to Comment: A Dilemma and a Danger

  1. Neil Anderson says:

    If we all thought that way and abandoned the SNP vote, there will never be another indyref vote. Never. Your call.

  2. Bruce Hosie says:

    Not everyone who votes SNP supports independence. I work with a few who vote SNP because they are the only left party in Scotland other than the Greens. For them it has nothing to do with independence as they don’t support it, it has everything to do with fairness and the social contract, break that contract and the SNP themselves will allow Labour a little hope as those who vote SNP for the social contract will them be less likely to vote SNP thus harming the chance of an Indy 2. The social contract is important, I want independence as much as anyone but I won’t vote for a party that breaks that contract , they will then be no different than the rest and I would just not vote.

    Thanks for commenting.

  3. MAUREEN Potter says:

    I was a teacher for 30 years but a member of the EIS for about 12 of those 30 years! I was EIS rep for several of these 12 years but left when they ignored my plea to discipline themale colleague who took over from me and who was bullying all the female teachers. By that time I had found them to be the Labour Party in another guise. They haven’t changed from what I can see. The Labour Party is behind all this public unrest and their policy is divide the workers so they can fight each other, blame the SNP and vote Labour instead!

    • Maureen

      It wouldn’t surprise me in the least but it will create problems. I don’t blame the teaching profession for trying to get the best deal but from I hear it won’t go down well if it happens. We have an SNP council in Dundee and a large public sector. If they are forced to have different deals then they will not win the next election and I hope they understand the seriousness of the situation.

      Thanks for commenting.

  4. Artyhetty says:

    My comment is not showing up…

    • Artyhetty says:

      Trying again!

      Absolutely Maureen. The SNP are being played by the British nationalist parties, they are being cornered. Who wants teachers or any public sector workers on strike? No one, except of course the Labour branch of the ‘UK’ party in Scotland, who want nothing more than to oust the SNP and take the cosy seats at Holyrood back for themselves. The SNP are up against a monster called the British state, Scotland is a vassal state.

      The Brit state, and others, go to great lengths to get rid of socially democratic parties around the globe, one way to do that is to divide the people, split votes, sow seeds of doubt, drum up discontent and then they win! Just look at Latin America, resource rich countries, and you can see the kind of tactics used to divide people. Get the workers to strike is the first step to overthrowing a government no matter how much that government is doing for the actual country they have been chosen, by the people, to represent them.

      If you promise to remove your SNP vote when their hand may well be forced in this, then you are playing into the hands of the britnats. Oh how they will laugh when they take over Scotland again.

      They will privatise the hell out of Scotland’s ‘public’ sector, there won’t be one to strike for in fact!

      Caution, staying ahead of these dangerous power mad, greedy troughers so desperate to unseat the SNP. It’s not for the workers’ sakes, it’s for their own careers, they have likely already been offered seats at HOL’s in fact. £300 a day is what they are looking at for themselves!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I don’t doubt for one minute that the yoons will put as much pressure on as they possibly can and most of the unions are in Labours pocket but that will still not resolve the issue of treating parts of the public sector differently . That really will break the social contract and the SNP I imagine would pay a heavy price, they have to stick to the 3% across the board for all even if that means strikes by teachers. Give in to teachers and I will personally agree to strike action and if the other public sector workers go out on strike the impact will be far greater than that of just teachers. I have spoken to a lot of people about this and they feel strongly about it and will take action if they are deemed to be of less worth than a teacher, it’s difficult enough in the public sector now with low to zero moral, tell people they are valued even less then its the beginning of the end and without the votes of the no voters who do support the SNP there will be no indy2.

    Thanks for commenting.

  6. greig12 says:

    Parking the bit about everybody your speaking to for a minute and thinking about your own threatened action to not vote SNP. I’m assuming you personally are talking about voting for the Greens because you’ve expressed your hatred for the other parties at length and I’m also assuming you won’t go back on that? Maureen Potter and Arty Hetty are right, this is part of the war the unionists are waging upon the SNP and the Yes movement and it feels very much like your buying into it.

    We need to get independence first then we can vote for the party we support, then we can vote for someone else if they make decisions we don’t like. The anecdotal stuff your writing about who’s been saying what to who is conjecture and it may or may not be relevant. The one sure thing is that your article here is a gift to the forces arrayed against us. The question you need to ask yourself is this. What do I want more? An independent Scotland with politicians elected by the Scottish people or to be part of scupperring that because of some social contract baloney.

    If we don’t get independence it’ll be more Londoncentric Tory rule and If the Torys or Labour or god forbid the liberals gain power in Holyrood. you’ll have had yer social contract. You know this.

    • Greig
      I probably won’t vote at all if I feel a party has betrayed the trust I put in them, I just won’t do that. I don’t envy the SNP in this situation at all as they are between a rock and a hard place and it’s not of their own making. By trying to be fair they made a rod for their own back in many ways. You said ” social contract baloney ” , I have to disagree with you there on that one. It is reckoned that as many as 10 to 15% of public sector workers vote SNP who don’t support independence. I would argue that most of them came from Scottish Labour and the social contract in the main is the reason why, break that contract then indy2 won’t happen if these people shift their votes. Giving into threats from the teaching union, no matter if they are supported by yoon union, is a disaster and morally as a public sector worker I would find very difficult to support a party who does that. That is the Labour Party. I would love a decent pay rise but I accept that times are still tough. If anyone should be getting 10% it should be the lowest paid not some of the highest, I sit somewhere in the middle and would accept less if it meant the lowest got more. Teachers in the main are well paid by the overall public sector standard, they also have some of the best terms and conditions around. They have 17 weeks plus break from teaching. I also work in education but it would be classed as informal education, I get paid less, around 10% less and receive 5 weeks annual leave with none of the perks. Now I am in schools every day and see the role that teachers play, it;s a very difficult one, but it is not worth more than the increase for a home help and like any profession they need to look at themselves as my view is they are failing too many young people but that is a personal opinion. I also agree that independence is vital but I will not put aside my principles to support the SNP if they break that trust. That is the other parties and I wouldn’t touch them with a barge pole. It’s not an easy place for the SNP but they should not mistake the level of feeling on this issue, here in Dundee getting that wrong will result in a yoon coalition and the loss of the council at the next election.

      Thanks for commenting.

      • greig12 says:

        We are going to have to agree to disagree on this one. I worked in local government in a wide variety of locations and roles for 30 years and believe me I know what it’s like to feel devalued and demotivated, to never have adequate resources to meet client need and see your job get bigger and more unmanageable. I do know however that even though conditions of service have taken hits over the years they’re still better than a lot of folks get.

        I maybe wasn’t clear about social contracts, I don’t mean they’re baloney as a principle. If we lived in a normal country that manages its own affairs then I would be standing alongside you on that one. We don’t live in a normal country though do we? We live in a colony run by a right wing elite.

        The overriding principle your voting for with the SNP is independence. After we achieve that they will more than likely cease to be and we can vote for whoever rises from the ashes. It’s a bonus to us that their governance has been good and if your no voting colleagues have any sense they’ll think about free tuition fees etc..and reconsider their position.

        Withdrawing your allegiance from the SNP every time they make a bad decision is damaging to our cause. I agree they shouldn’t show teachers favour but this is all smoke. Let’s win the prize first and then we can argue about what kind of country we want to be. Let’s create a situation for ourselves through independence where our principles will in reality mean something and not be shrugged off by our ‘masters and betters.’

        • greig12
          I totally understand where you are coming from but I don’t think it is necessarily about people feeling under valued, it’s part of being in the public sector. I think it’s the idea of treating people differently within the public sector, that will cause a lot of problems that are unnecessary, I really believe the public sector deserves a decent pay rise but I also believe the SNP have to remain strong in the face of the EIS even if that means the teachers go out on strike, they will find very quickly they do not have the level of support they think they do from the rest of the public sector or parents who are also struggling. For me it;s about fairness, my vote is always available because I;m sure like yourself given your comments on the blog that it is not something you take lightly and consider all the options. Overall the SNP have shown themselves to be of good governance overall but it will run out as people will at some point just vote for change and I would rather not give them an excuse. Of course brexit will change everything and I would expect to see an increase in both the SNP and Liberal votes in the event of a hard brexit which is looking more likely. If that is the case then it has to be SNP all the way irrespective of what happens locally but it would be a bitter pill to swallow for me if that were the case, I have made my feeling known to politicians in the City and I do believe they inderstand the strength of feeling.

          Thanks for commenting.

  7. Pingback: Comment: You might have just lost my vote | Grumpy Scottish Man

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