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Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Myth of the underpaid public sector worker

Public sector workers are paid more on average than those in the private sector, according to the first comprehensive analysis of the pay divide by the Office for National Statistics, thereby blowing a hole in the TUC's arguments against public sector pay cuts

The ONS found that full-time public sector staff earned an average of £74 a week more than those in the private sector. Once employer pension contributions were included, the gap rose to £136, illustrating the generous pay-and-perks deals enjoyed by local and central government workers.

The TUC warned of a "darker, more brutish" society and labelled the Government the "demolition Coalition". In reality, 25% of the government's wages bill could be cut by bringing public sector pay down to the level of private sector pay, and the deficit would disappear.

In its September Economic and Labour Market Review, published yesterday, the national statistician reported that the average weekly salary for public sector workers in April last year was £539, compared with £465 in the private sector.

The research would have been even more depressing reading for private sector workers when job security is considered. "The likelihood of losing your job in the private sector is much higher," he said. The number of public sector workers swelled under Labour from 5.2 million to more than six million.

Ah, but counter the TUC: "You can't make direct comparisons. The public sector has many more professional and highly skilled workers within it than the private sector. Averages simply do not tell us anything useful."

More phooey. The work of some individuals may be valuable. but on average we expect the average cost of our public servants to be less than the earning power of the people they serve. After all the services they provide have an economic value that is limited by the incomes of the people they serve.

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