Wednesday, 30 November 2011


It was the day of strike action today, in case you hadn't noticed. Call me a fence-sitter if you want, but I'm not going to comment publicly on whether I think the teachers, as one example, are right or wrong to withdraw their labour at the urging of the unions. Obviously, for many parents up and down the country the strike seems to be viewed as an inconvenience they could well do without, particularly when you consider that a whopping 24 Thanet schools are believed to have been closed today.

However, it's worth remembering the vitally important role that teachers have in society and how we owe it to our children to take heed of their understandable concerns about pension reforms. Whether going on strike is a suitable way to address those concerns is up for you to decide, but I do err on the side of sympathy.

I'm not usually one to go in for these internet-based viral things, but I saw that a friend of mine on Facebook had posted this, so I felt compelled to share it:

Are you sick of highly paid teachers? 

Teachers' hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year! It's time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do – babysit! 

We can get that for less than minimum wage. 

That's right. Let's give them £5.93 an hour and only the hours they work; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be £41.51 a day (8.30 am to 3:30pm with 60 minutes off for lunch and play – that equals 7½ hours). 

Each parent could pay £41.51 a day for these teachers to babysit their children. Now how many children do they teach in a day... maybe 32? So that's £41.51 x 32 = £1328.32 a day. 

However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any holidays. 

LET'S SEE.... 

That's £1328.32 x 180 = £239,097.60 per year. (Hold on! My calculator needs new batteries). 

What about those special education teachers and the ones with Master's degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage (£6.90), and just to be fair, round it off to £7.00 an hour. That would be £7.00 x 7½ hours x 32 children x 180 days = £ 302,400 per year. 

Wait a minute – there's something wrong here! There sure is! 

The average teacher's salary (nationwide) is £25,000 ÷ 180 days = £138.90 per day ÷ 32 children = £4.34 ÷ 7½ hours = £0.58 per hour per student – a very inexpensive babysitter and they even EDUCATE your kids!) WHAT A DEAL!!!!

Make a teacher smile (or cry!); repost this to show appreciation!

Clearly, if the above is true, we should consider ourselves lucky that we pay teachers as modestly as we do. Just remember – not all of those who work in education or the public sector are riding a gravy train. Most are not-so-lucky. 

If a teacher can walk away from a long career at the age of 65 with an average pension of around £9,806 (as the Hutton report states) then the whole 'gold-plated' argument much-loved by the gutter-press falls apart like a stale cookie. At the very least, that should be a reason to listen to the strikers rather than berate them, should it not?


  1. Since when did the private sector get subsidized pensions from the government?

  2. Just tell me why, low paid workers on min wage are subsidising pensions for better paid public sector workers in bomb proof jobs, and get real why have the media only focused on nurses teachers low paid not a tax inspector, middle ranking jobsworth in sight.

  3. Almost 250,000 public sector workers have lost their jobs in the past year, Tony. Hardly bomb proof.

  4. Tony Flaig: You would rather a race to the bottom where everyone works in the private sector in low paid, insecure Mcjobs would you? You might not have noticed but over the past 30 years the public sector has largely been cut to the bone, many areas being contracted out to the private sector and job safety eradicated.

    Don't we need tax inspectors? Saying as there are something like £70billion worth of taxes being avoided by the rich I would've thought that we need more tax inspection not less. As for "middle ranking jobsworths": who might they be exactly? The vast proportion of the public sector are doing valuable jobs like teaching, nursing, social work, emergency services etc, not working as "a tax inspector, middle ranking jobsworth." Imagine if they became subject to the whims of the Private Sector? God help us!

  5. Those who attack the public sector just don't get it do they? After 30 years of the constant drip, drip, drip of Neoliberalism a signifcant minority of the population have forgotten the concept of having a public sector that is answerable to the voters. Instead they seem to call for everything to be at the mercy of the private sector who are, in essence, only answerable to shareholders.

    The same goes for paying taxes to support the public sector. Take that away and we are subject to the forces of the free market and look where that got us in the last decade!

    Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of things wrong with the public sector but the alternative is far less democratic and open to far more corruption.

  6. It is about what we can afford and many other countries in Europe, including big economies like Italy and France, are facing deeper cuts than the UK.

    Interestingly enough, my daughter who teaches in the private sector was at work yesterday along with every other teacher, cook, cleaner and grounds staff member at the school. They are also not immune to the cuts, but have a very different attitude and work ethic to some in the public sector.

    As to Luke's comment about job losses in the public sector, under the Voluntary Early Release system there are some mind blowing pay offs including huge sums to people who have been off sick more often than at work for years in some instances. Many of the jobs that have gone did not really exist in the first place other than to reduce unemployment figures during Labour's tenure. One was a lady clerk with MOD at Shornecliffe who sat knitting all day as there was nothing for her to do.

    It was an area of collosal waste waiting for someone to have the courage to take on Unison and sort it out.

  7. That shut Tony up!

  8. What did, 19:54? The knitting lady or the poor work ethic frequently prevalent in the public sector?

  9. Some interesting comments here. OK, fair enough, it's soapbox time: I too am a critic of neoliberalism. In fact, the subject of my university dissertation touched upon that very subject.

    I feel that to make every facet of society subject to the whims of market forces would cause standards of life in our country to slip drastically, as there's a risk that anything which cannot have a price put on it or is deemed 'commercially unviable' would seemingly be deemed surplus to society's requirements, which is not always the case.

    A public sector is therefore required to cordon off particular services or sectors of industry which are socially indispensable - free from the profit motive and the corrupting obligations of shareholders - to counterbalance the potential injustices caused by the sort of unregulated rampant capitalism that neoliberalism preaches. But sure, there is definitely a place for the private sector - it's just there to cater to the public need, not the public good.

    However, the public sector is certainly far from perfect, and reform is needed to temper its overblown and bureaucratic nature and make it more publicly accountable. Too often, successive governments (including New Labour) have felt that the public sector needs to compete with the private sector rather than making sure it operates as a corrective to the social iniquities caused by capitalism's worst excesses. I fear that the public service ethos is being destroyed by this mentality. Provided it operates at its best, a public sector should be democracy's greatest tool, and I'd argue a democracy dictated by price tags and personal wealth is no democracy at all.

    Contrary to what others might think, I feel that most public sector workers are doing a fine job and are working to make a positive difference to society at large, and not just in it to get rich quick (which is not always the case with those in the private sector, particularly in the banking industry!). In my view, a land run solely by the set of principles laid down by neoliberalism would lead to a free-for-all of snake oil salesmanship - something I certainly wouldn't want to be subjected to at the bottom of a hospital bed in my old age!

  10. All good sense Luke, but the most important thing you over looked was choice. I agree with you that we need a principled and effective public sector, with less of the incompetence horror stories that seem to have been all too frequent in recent years. We also need a flourishing private sector to generate jobs, exports and economic growth.

    We also need it for the choice of alternatives to the state provisions and to exercise our freedom as individuals. I home educated one of my three daughters. It cost a lot more than sending her to a state school, but in her case it was the right choice. She is now at university and on target for a first.

  11. In 2010 Barclays enjoyed an indirect subsidy of £10 billion from the British public; Lloyds, RBS, HSBC and Nationwide also enjoyed subsidies of £15bn, £13bn, £7bn and £1bn respectively. We are propping up the banks, hedge fund managers and corporations, but cannot find money to ensure that public sector workers have a meagre (not gold plated) pension when they retire at age 67/68. It must also be pointed out that the Government is not putting public sector pension contributions into a ring fenced pension pot, but putting them straight into the Treasury to use on their pet projects.

    As has been said before, public sector services aren't perfect, but the alternative, private sector provision US style, is horrendous - I can vouch for that!

  12. And I suppose a few hundred million Americans would agree with you then, 8:54, as you can vouch for it.