Necessary or disturbing?

A couple of weeks ago the DUP claimed that they were the party in the best position to reduce the size of government in Northern Ireland. on Saturday Peter Robinson admitted that the public sector has “difficult decisions” to take about it’s size, another indication that they want to cut the public sector. Yet also on Saturday, the DUP find suggestions that the public sector has to be reduced in size over a period of time “disturbing“. Which is it? Necessary or disturbing?

  • kensei

    Are those actually contradictory states?

  • alan56

    Just DUP/SF coalition spinning a different ‘tone’ for a different audience.

  • willis

    Read the links.

    Robinson was talking about Executive and Assemply
    Foster was talking about public sector jobs.

  • True Blue

    The DUP have a great history on making ‘difficult decisions’…… oh right.

    The only decision that the DUP has to make is how many of the extra salaries that their elected representatives will give back to those who vote for them – that should start to make a dent in the ‘black hole’ we call an economy.

  • Continental Drifter

    Don’t know which it is, MICHAEL, but your friends in the Tories have clearly stated they would slash public sector pay.

    Good luck winning an election in Norn Irn with that policy priority.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Why don’t the DUP let us know how they would save £50 million with out massive reductions in the civil service of about 2,000 people, 5 or 6 ministers won’t get there even if they are Dodds and Robinson.

    Total hypocrisy from the DUP.

  • Fair Deal

    In addition to willis’s points, there is essentially two different questions at play here – how the NI Executive spends the block grant it gets and how much of a block grant the NI Executive gets?

    Surely Arlene’s concerns are shared by Danny Kennedy who was worried about cuts of up to £600m in the Exec budget so it isn’t just the DUP concern about the expenditure being cut?

    The underlying issue here is if NI Executive makes savings where does the money go? At present efficiency savings can be reinvested particularly to the capital spend where there is an immense backlog of work (plus it would help the construction sector through the downturn) or to frontline services. However, if the budget is cut then the hard work to achieve those savings does not lead to reallocation and issues like capital under-investment continue and get worse or back office gets cut but no improvement to frontline.

    IIRC the NI Executive agreed a budget with pretty ambitious efficiency savings and AFAIK to the credit of the departments and their ministers they are being met.

    The public finances may be in such a state that reductions are simply what has to happen. The electorate can be accepting of such an argument in sufficiently bad times. If UUPCon believe that is the scenario then they should get on with making that case.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Surely Arlene’s concerns are shared by Danny Kennedy who was worried about cuts of up to £600m in the Exec budget so it isn’t just the DUP concern about the expenditure being cut?

    Afraid not. Danny Kennedy was expressing concern at £600m in one budget. Arlene was pontificating about a stable, managed and long term switch from public to private sector engine for the NI economy.

  • The public finances may be in such a state that reductions are simply what has to happen.

    What’s the DUP’s take on the state of the public finances? Does it believe the UK can continue to borrow at the current rate?

  • Fair Deal

    MS

    “Danny Kennedy was expressing concern at £600m in one budget.”

    Wrong the cuts he predicted were spread over a to be spread number of years. Danny Kennedy’s comments made that clear.
    “let it be known that he will be looking not only for £5bn of efficiency savings in 2009/2010 but that he will also be looking for additional efficiency savings of £10bn in the period beginning 2011-2012”.
    “this latest news has the potential to lop £600m off Stormont’s block grant from Westminster over the three year period of the comprehensive spending review,”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/8007929.stm

    “a stable, managed and long term switch”

    The only detail of what the Conservatives are considering is for a reduction, despite Burnside promises of more. There are no proposals of how it is to be done so the stability, manageability and over what term cannot be predicted they are aspirational.

  • Michael Shilliday

    One year, three years, not a difference big enough to negate the argument.

    So are you arguing that because you don’t know how it can be done it therefore shouldn’t be done?

  • Fair Deal

    “What’s the DUP’s take on the state of the public finances? Does it believe the UK can continue to borrow at the current rate?”

    Don’t know, see how they vote on the Finance Bills.

  • Fair Deal

    MS

    “One year, three years, not a difference big enough to negate the argument.”

    I’m sorry the difference in finding 200m in a year and 600m in a year is a tangible difference. It can represent the difference between little minor things like the prescriptions and water charges policy being sustainable or not.

    “So are you arguing that because you don’t know how it can be done it therefore shouldn’t be done?”

    No. I am arguing the Tories don’t know yet how they are going to do it. Thus whether the impact of these proposals (when they appear) will be stable, managed and long-term cannot be predicted. They are merely aspirations not facts.

  • Don’t know, see how they vote on the Finance Bills

    My goodness FD! And yet you’re always so well informed!

    It’s almost enough to make me think that the DUPes haven’t much considered how Northern Ireland’s finances fit into the national picture. Otherwise I’m sure you’d have an idea what their thinking might be.

  • Fair Deal

    Chekov

    “And yet you’re always so well informed!”

    LOL I do try to keep up even with what UUP reps actually say. However, a confidante of the DUP parliamentary party I am most certainly not.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    People either want to be fully in the UK or they don’t. If they do, they have to shoulder their share of repaying Brown’s wasted billions with all the other people in the UK, even though they had no opportunity to vote for him or aganist him.

    If they want to be semi detached unionists who only want the good bits and not to take their place in the UK when problems arise then they are the road to a UI.

    I suspect the UK will not accept any longer that NI is different and that it will have to become the same as the rest of the UK as soon as is possible. The money will have to be invested to make that happen it may take a generation or even two but it must be seen to be happening.

  • Whoever is in office in Northern Ireland has to face up to the fact that to Govern responsibly, it must make has to bear its share of cuts in public spending. Peter Robinson refers to the whole public sector. He is right about that. Across the board, all arms of Government and local authority will have to concentrate minds and find a way of saving money.

    The proposed cuts in MLAs and ministries need to be considered more carefully. I agree that there are too many MLAs but these are constitutional matters.

    The DUP must work honestly with the other parties in the Executive to agree spending cuts and changes to the constitution if they want to command respect. As First Minister, he should be taking the initiative to explore how these cuts can be achieved.

    I note Arlene Foster’s criticism of the Conservative proposal to abolish Barnett. As Joel Barnett himself said, it [the Barnet Formula) was only meant to be a temporary measure and it has ended up lasting 30 years. He notes the unfairness to England.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/scotland/article5489186.ece

    The Barnett formula is outdated and needs reform. Such a reform is not going to mean that the Conservatives are just “swinging the axe.” The intention is to “Ween off” NI gradually from its state sector dependancy whilst the fiscal measures promised to stimulate the NI economy take effect.

  • bonkers

    Thousands of public sector jobs going, unemployment register soaring again, that is something to be concerned about.

    I take it you don’t work in the public sector?

  • ??

    Why don’t the DUP let us know how they would save £50 million ……….

    easy , scrap the north / south bodies,..theres £40 mill to start with

  • The Impartial Observer

    Speaking as someone who works in the public sector, I can assure you all that there is unbelievable waste and inefficiency which could be removed without any impact on front line services. I can also assure you that many public sector workers would welcome that if it got rid of the majority of senior and middle managers and the minions who make up their little empires who spend most of their days on Facebook and Bebo!

    The civil service is actually more like a collection of feudal kingdoms than a coherent organization. It works like this, the senior managers create posts for middle managers and let them build up their own little empires. They then play the middle managers off against one another, showering money and resources on their favourites so as to buy their fealty. In my agency, a senior manager has just given bonuses of £250 to 10 people who were working on a special project for this individual. Myself and the people who had been working on similar work had far more responsibilities and less resources but on a direct comparison of workload achieved, we accomplished more than this team. But they have been given the bonuses so as to build up the senior manager’s powerbase!

  • Glencoppagagh

    I shudder when I hear talk of more money going into “front line services”. It usually means into the pockets of those who are deemed to be providing these services or employing more of them so that the rest can work less.

  • Quagmire

    “easy , scrap the north / south bodies,..theres £40 mill to start with”
    Posted by ?? on Apr 27, 2009 @ 05:18 PM

    Thanks but no thanks. The slashing of the public sector here in the north over the next couple of years is a welcome move from a Republican perspective as it means that we will be less reliant on the subvention from London thusly making Irish reunification less costly to the taxpayer in the south. Britain is beginning to cut the strings. The next 10 to 20 years will see greater development in relation to the all – Ireland economy, greater north-south harmonisation and eventual reunification. Why? Because it makes sense.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Thanks but no thanks. The slashing of the public sector here in the north over the next couple of years is a welcome move from a Republican perspective as it means that we will be less reliant on the subvention from London thusly making Irish reunification less costly to the taxpayer in the south.

    Aren’t you concerned about the hardship and misery of people being put out of work ? Of course not, because you live on Planet Chuckie where the daily lives of ordinary people are completely irrelevant when it comes to the grand fantasy of Irish reunification.

  • George

    Comrade,
    “Aren’t you concerned about the hardship and misery of people being put out of work ?”

    The sad reality is that nobody in the Northern Ireland seems to be too put out by the hardship and misery of people being put out of work.

    Think of all those jobs the 8 billion annual subvention could save in Great Britain.

    The cost of this endless waste in Northern Ireland is the misery of job cuts elsewhere.

    Why should the British taxpayer continue to fund this horrendous waste at a time like this?

  • Bigger Picture

    More complete wank from Frustrated Democrat/Shilliday.

    Cutting the amount given to Northern Ireland in a block grant is different from making efficiency savings in Government departments to ensure that front line services are not affected.

    Cutting the number departments/civil servants ensure the block grant is used more effectively for front line services, cutting the block grant will ensure that that front line services are affect.

    Now Michael does this need to be explained in a simpler language to you,

    “These cows are small, but those cows are faaaar away….small…far awar….small…far away.”

    Try finding something proper to report on rather than trying to make a story out of something The Irish Daily Star wouldn’t carry

  • willowfield

    Not really a good time to be cutting the public sector in the middle of a recession. We should have been doing that when things were looking up.

    That said, there are too many MLAs, too many departments and too many civil servants. But if you shrink the civil service, you just get more people on the dole, less money in the economy, and the recession gets worse.

  • willowfield

    … rather – shrinking the civil service without reinvesting the money elsewhere …

  • Comrade Stalin

    After all Britain brought them so many great things such as Partition, the Famine, sectarianism, colonialism etc.

    An excellent point. There’s nothing like a bit of whataboutery to get the day started.

    Now that we’re on that subject, when are you going to compensate the native Americans for the land and resources that you nicked from them ? American Indian reservations see high levels of infant mortality and problems like alcoholism, family issues, low educational attainment, unemployment etc. This wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for the colonizers (yes, that includes you) so it’s your fault – when are you going to start taking responsibility ? When is Leonard Peltier going to get justice and when will the illegal sectarian FBI rescind its right to enter reservations ?

    Are you starting to get an idea of how fucking stupid arguments like this are ?

  • willowfield

    USA

    Also, remove all US forces bases from everywhere west of the Appalachians; remove all CIA facilities; make the American AOH pay for cleaning up their mess each year; and rescind all redundancies or pensions paid to retiring police officers across the US.

  • willowfield

    Frustrated Democrat

    Brown’s wasted billions

    You consider that it was wasteful to bail out the banks? You think it would have been a good idea to let them go to the wall?

  • Frustrated Democrat

    willowfield

    I wasn’t talking about the banks I’m talking about the last 12 years – if you want to know more read – ‘Gordon Brown Prime Minister’ by Tom Bowen

    USA

    Yeah, some of them bombed NI into oblivion for 30 years I think they should make some reparation.

  • Neil

    We’ve been on the pigs back for a while. The UK government had plenty of time to sort the finances out before the credit crunch even happened, a bit of the old Scottish prudence wouldn’t have gone amiss. Now we’re in the situation that we’ve frittered away fortunes of money on daft quangos and committees, we have an unsustainable number of people working in Government, and as a matter of course we budget millions of pounds for glossy brochures, pointless television advertising etc. We have a civil service staffed with people who think sick pay and holiday entitlment are the same thing.

    Efficiencies could free up a fortune. A robust unauthorised abcense system where civil servants are subjected to the same treatment as the private sector would save a fortune. Doing away with pointless publications would save a fortune. Private sector employees are losing their jobs, hand over fist. The public sector should also have to pay some small price, as aside from anything else it’s the public sector that’s soaking up all the money, and the private sector who’s paying up. The argument that cutting public sector jobs means less taxed income, less cash spent etc. falls apart when you realise by not paying the wage in the first place, you save more than what you will regain in income tax and VAT on purchases.

    As regards the issue as to who wants to pay tax to whom, fuck me. You try not paying your tax. Republicans are not living in a fantasy universe where we think we’re already in a UI, there’s a system in place here (the UK one) and we’ll do our best to play it to our advantage just like the next man. Obviously we’ll be claiming our benefits entitlement, using the NHS and paying our taxes just like the rest of the world.

  • willowfield

    FD

    I wasn’t talking about the banks I’m talking about the last 12 years – if you want to know more read – ‘Gordon Brown Prime Minister’ by Tom Bowen

    In the previous 12 years, Brown’s borrowing was “prudent” – he made a deliberate effort to keep it under control and was praised for doing so. What “waste” do you refer to?

  • willowfield

    Neil

    A robust unauthorised abcense system where civil servants are subjected to the same treatment as the private sector would save a fortune.

    What are the differences between how the public and private sectors treat sick employees?

    Doing away with pointless publications would save a fortune.

    I agree that too much is spent on this, but I hardly think it would save a fortune.

    The obvious way to make efficiencies is to cut the number of MLAs, departments and QUANGOs, and reinvest the money in other, more useful and productive, jobs. We should invest heavily in alternative energy research and production, for example.

    Private sector employees are losing their jobs, hand over fist. The public sector should also have to pay some small price, as aside from anything else it’s the public sector that’s soaking up all the money, and the private sector who’s paying up.

    The public sector “soaks up the money” by providing services to the public – most of whom are employed in the private sector. Private sector employees use hospitals, schools, roads, the police, fire services, the courts, etc.

    It is a foolish argument to say that public sector workers should be sacked just to even things up because the private sector is suffering redundancies. If we’re going to attach blame to either sector, remember that it was the private sector bosses who got us into this mess.

    The argument that cutting public sector jobs means less taxed income, less cash spent etc. falls apart when you realise by not paying the wage in the first place, you save more than what you will regain in income tax and VAT on purchases.

    But that is offset by extra payments in social security, and loss of income to private sector businesses due to more unemployed people with less money to spend.

  • Neil

    What are the differences between how the public and private sectors treat sick employees?

    I’ve never had a job in the public sector, but I know that in my current job it doesn’t take many occasions of absence before the employee starts losing money. From the absenteeism figures for the civil service I would be of the opinion that something’s going badly wrong.

    I agree that too much is spent on this, but I hardly think it would save a fortune.

    Yes but that’s simply one symptom of an underlying culture of handing over too much money too easily, and spending every dime in your budget every time. The Quangos etc. I agree, but I also think that far too much is wasted, simply because it’s available to be wasted.

    The obvious way to make efficiencies is to cut the number of MLAs, departments and QUANGOs … invest heavily in alternative energy research and production, for example.

    The public sector “soaks up the money” by providing services to the public – most of whom are employed in the private sector. Private sector employees use hospitals, schools, roads, the police, fire services, the courts, etc.

    I’m not suggesting wholesale cuts, what I’m saying is if there’s a group of twenty people, who between them take six months to a year of sick time, then once you get your abseteeism in order, you need one less member of staff. This is only one example, but I’m sure that efficiencies could be made which would mean a lower equirement for staff.

    It is a foolish argument to say that public sector workers should be sacked just to even things up because the private sector is suffering redundancies. If we’re going to attach blame to either sector, remember that it was the private sector bosses who got us into this mess.

    Not what I’m saying at all. Not simply sack public sector workers because private companies are going to the wall. What I am saying is belts are being tightened all round, why should the public sector continue to operate the same way as it did when money was abundant? Again I’m coming back to the ‘we’re rich, we can afford it, yes let’s fund that’ culture that exists.

    If we’re in a credit crunch and people are losing out all round, if we’re using vast sums of money that we can’t afford for quangos, glossy publications, overstaffed offices and lead swinging sick employees, then something’s got to give, and I see no reason that the public sector should be immune to having to get it’s shit on order.

    All of this is exacerbated (for me at least) by the fact that this is NI where the public sector is so vast.

  • willowfield

    Neil

    I’ve never had a job in the public sector, but I know that in my current job it doesn’t take many occasions of absence before the employee starts losing money.

    I’m afraid that’s not very informative. What is it that private sector employers do that public sector employers do not and that results in a lower absence rate?

    From the absenteeism figures for the civil service I would be of the opinion that something’s going badly wrong.

    The problem seems to be peculiar to large organisations, moreso than the public sector. There are high sickness rates in large private sector companies too. The bigger the organisation, the higher the absence rates.

    Yes but that’s simply one symptom of an underlying culture of handing over too much money too easily, and spending every dime in your budget every time.

    On the latter point, I agree, there is a culture of spending all your money. Indeed, departments are heavily criticised if they do not spend their money!

    I’m not suggesting wholesale cuts, what I’m saying is if there’s a group of twenty people, who between them take six months to a year of sick time, then once you get your abseteeism in order, you need one less member of staff. This is only one example, but I’m sure that efficiencies could be made which would mean a lower equirement for staff.

    Cutting the number of departments, etc., would also reduce the required number of civil servants.

    Not what I’m saying at all. Not simply sack public sector workers because private companies are going to the wall.

    You said “Private sector employees are losing their jobs, hand over fist. The public sector should also have to pay some small price …” – looks like you’re suggesting an “evening up” of pain just for the sake of it.

    What I am saying is belts are being tightened all round, why should the public sector continue to operate the same way as it did when money was abundant?

    I don’t believe the public sector should ever be inefficient, whether or not there is a recession. I also understand that budgets have been cut by Mr Darling for the next few years.

    Again I’m coming back to the ‘we’re rich, we can afford it, yes let’s fund that’ culture that exists. If we’re in a credit crunch and people are losing out all round, if we’re using vast sums of money that we can’t afford for quangos, glossy publications, overstaffed offices and lead swinging sick employees, then something’s got to give, and I see no reason that the public sector should be immune to having to get it’s shit on order.

    Seeing as neoliberal economics have been discredited and Keynes has made a comeback, I don’t think that cutting public spending during a recession is a good thing. Public spending is one of the few tools available to try to keep the economy afloat. That’s why I say – by all means reduce inefficiencies in government administration – but re-invest the money – i.e. it still needs to be spent.

    All of this is exacerbated (for me at least) by the fact that this is NI where the public sector is so vast.

    Ironically, that is one of the reasons why the recession will not be so bad here as it otherwise would be.

  • Glencoppagagh

    Neil
    “this is NI where the public sector is so vast” and they all have votes as have their relatives. No local administration would have the nerve to tackle the public sector. That’s why they tried on that witless campaign for a reduced corporation tax rate to “kickstart” the private sector. They saw it as a painless means to get round the problem.

    Only a squeeze from Westminster will have any effect and I don’t think the Executive could survive such a challenge. Democracy itself is endangered when the public sector becomes too large.
    Then it would be up to direct rule ministers to start some serious pruning which would be appropriate since it was 30 years of direct rule that nurtured the monster.
    After that there may be some prospect of rwesponsible devolved government.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    willowfield

    Read the book, it was updated when he became Prime Minister and it forecast very accurately what would happen under a GB as PM and details the spending that GB did that went straight down the drain just to save his face on his failed schemes. Also how he used Whelan to smear anyone who could oppose him for PM (sound familar?).

    If you are interested in Politics and not a fan of GB it is a good read.

  • willowfield

    Couldn’t you just tell us what waste you refer to?

  • Comrade Stalin

    willowfield,

    The public sector takes longer to make decisions when it comes to people who are suspended for disciplinary reasons, or people who are off on sick, and I know that from talking to people who have worked in both. There was an article in the newspaper a while back about a PSNI officer who had been off for several years on full pay pending an investigation. There’s no good reason for this.

    Absenteeism levels tolerated in parts of the NICS wouldn’t be acceptable in the private sector. Furthermore there are other things that just don’t happen. For example if a public sector employee goes on long-term sick and their position is covered, and they subsequently recover, they will remain off work on full pay until there is another position for them to return to. This wouldn’t happen in the private sector; either work would be found or the person would be made redundant. It’s not the fault of whomever is on sick, it’s just bad management.

  • Reader

    willowfield: But that is offset by extra payments in social security, and loss of income to private sector businesses due to more unemployed people with less money to spend.
    So does that mean that the current size of the public sector is 1) Too small? 2) Too large 3) Just right?
    And, as the size of the tax base collapses, and the Government borrows money just to pay for interest payments and day to day expenses, should the public sector 1) expand? 2) contract? 3) stay the same?

  • willowfield

    COMRADE STALIN

    Thanks for that. I tend to agree. The civil service should be more ruthless in getting rid of inefficient staff.

    Another suggestion is that they should stop paying sick pay and move people on to SSP much sooner. That would soon flush out the chancers.

    READER

    willowfield: But that is offset by extra payments in social security, and loss of income to private sector businesses due to more unemployed people with less money to spend.

    So does that mean that the current size of the public sector is 1) Too small? 2) Too large 3) Just right?

    It doesn’t mean any of those things. It means that there is a cost to the economy in moving someone from being in employment to unemployment.

    And, as the size of the tax base collapses, and the Government borrows money just to pay for interest payments and day to day expenses, should the public sector 1) expand? 2) contract? 3) stay the same?

    Keynes would probably say it should expand in order to stimulate demand. Or, at least, that public spending should increase – on construction, for example, which would create private sector jobs. So not necessarily an increase in public sector jobs.

  • BrokeDick

    The amount of public money wasted by the New Labour government on quangos, oversight committees, action groups and other impressively-titled organisations is much more than most suspect. David Craig’s book “Squandered” gives an enraging insight. The British public sector requires immediate trimming; not because the private sector is suffering, but simply due to the fact that it is lined with straps of bureaucratic Michelin.

    Isn’t the proportion of N. Ireland’s GDP from public jobs some ridiculously high figure, around 60%?

  • willowfield

    In relative terms, QUANGOs, oversight committees and “action groups” are unlikely to have cost very much money.

    Ironically, QUANGOs, etc., were largely a creation of the Tories.

  • willis

    The irony of our current financial crisis is that if a substantial number of public servants working in banking supervision had known what they were doing and what they were supposed to do they might have prevented the private sector banks destroying the economy.

  • willowfield

    Indeed. The private sector caused the credit crunch, but we still get the usual suspects beating the tired old anti-public-sector drum. The neoliberal era is over.

  • Glencoppagagh

    Willowfield
    “private sector caused the credit crunch”
    Public sector causes very little: that’s the problem.
    Don’t forget that the public sector has to be paid for by the private sector so when the private sector contracts so should the public sector. Sadly, little sign of it in this benighted corner where we’re in the absurd position of public sector employees being paid more than the private sector.

  • willowfield

    Public sector causes very little: that’s the problem.

    You need to make your mind up. If you want a weak public sector, then you should not see it “causing very little” as a problem. If you do see it as a problem, then you should be arguing for a stronger public sector. There’s little logic apparent in your “argument”.

    Don’t forget that the public sector has to be paid for by the private sector so when the private sector contracts so should the public sector.

    Not quite as simple. The public sector also pays for the private sector. Public sector workers spend money on private businesses. Public sector organisations buy goods and services from private businesses.

    It doesn’t follow that private sector contraction means public sector contraction. As noted above, this is a time for public sector spending to be maintained, so as to boost the private sector.

    Sadly, little sign of it in this benighted corner where we’re in the absurd position of public sector employees being paid more than the private sector.

    Public sector employees are not paid more than the private sector. Public sector employees are largely low paid!

  • Glencoppagagh

    Willowfield
    Would you care to explain this:
    “Northern Ireland employs more nurses per head of population than anywhere else in the UK – 78 per 10,000 population, in England the figures are 58 per 10,000.
    There are 27 births per midwife compared to 35 in England.”
    from http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/8024733.stm

    “Front-line services” of course but still, it seems, just another job-creation scheme.
    All them wee lassies wanting to be nurses and stay at home close to mammy. We must make jobs for them.

  • willis

    “All them wee lassies wanting to be nurses and stay at home close to mammy. We must make jobs for them.”

    So much better to have a proper job in the private sector……

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/american-excess–a-wall-street-trader-tells-all-1674614.html

    “My first job out of Cornell was on the trading floor at UBS. So when news would hit the wire about an American company closing a domestic factory, I felt a good deal of conflict as I watched the company’s stock price go up as a result. Those sorts of factory closings had ruined my neighbourhood, my city, and many of the people I’d grown up with.”

  • willowfield

    GLENCOPPAGAGH

    Would you care to explain this: “Northern Ireland employs more nurses per head of population than anywhere else in the UK – 78 per 10,000 population, in England the figures are 58 per 10,000. There are 27 births per midwife compared to 35 in England.”

    It could be that we have greater need for nurses in Northern Ireland (e.g. poorer health) or that our administration considers providing more nurses to be a greater priority than do the other administrations.

    I’d say most people in other parts of the UK would complain about a lack of nurses.

    “Front-line services” of course but still, it seems, just another job-creation scheme.
    All them wee lassies wanting to be nurses and stay at home close to mammy. We must make jobs for them.

    Clearly you have little experience of hospitals. Lucky you.

    Better to have people on the dole than employed caring for the sick?

  • Glencoppagagh

    Willowfield
    “It could be that we have greater need for nurses in Northern Ireland (e.g. poorer health) or that our administration considers providing more nurses to be a greater priority than do the other administrations.”
    And there was me thinking that we had the youngest population in the UK.
    What about the midwives though?
    I’ve spent enough time in hospitals to realise how idle many of the staff are. As evidenced by the shocking incidence of obesity among NHS employees.

    “Better to have people on the dole than employed caring for the sick?”
    Yes, because then it’s open unemployment rather than disguised unemployment and the problem is more visible. Besides it generally costs less to keep someone on the dole.

    Willis
    “So much better to have a proper job in the private sector”
    Yes, better to have job that’s been created through a need identified by freely contracting parties rather than one that’s just been invented at the whim of a bureaucrat or politician.

  • willis

    “Yes, better to have job that’s been created through a need identified by freely contracting parties rather than one that’s just been invented at the whim of a bureaucrat or politician.”

    That indeed is the credo of those who worship at the temple of the perfect market.

    “Derivatives are financial contracts, the value of which is based on (derives from) something else, say the price of a stock or the price of a bushel of wheat. They were originally created to provide stability and allocate capital to industry, farmers, and the like, and, for a long time, derivatives allowed businesses to eliminate certain financial risks, say in currency, which provided stability to the business, its management, and its workers. If you were a factory worker back in the day, you benefited from your employer’s use of derivatives to smooth out their cash flows during the year, hedge against the risk of selling goods abroad. For about a hundred years, derivatives were a sort of lubricant in the world financial machine.

    By the time I arrived on Wall Street in 1999, the link between derivatives and the real world had broken down. Instead of being used to reduce risk, 95 per cent of their use was speculation – a polite term for gambling. And leveraging – which means taking a large amount of risk for a small amount of money. So while derivatives, and the financial industry more broadly, had started out serving industry, by the late 1990s the situation had reversed. The Market had become a near-religious force in our culture; industry, society, and politicians all bowed down to it.”

  • Comrade Stalin

    Thanks for that. I tend to agree. The civil service should be more ruthless in getting rid of inefficient staff.

    Willowfield,

    This isn’t necessarily what’s going on. There is a natural tendancy to assume “high sick rates = skivers”. It’s entirely possible that certain parts of the civil service are badly run and the workloads badly distributed. Ask anybody who is a social worker. The social care department within the DSD, incidentally, is where some of the highest rates of absenteeism occur.

    But I do agree that skiving is going on.

    Another suggestion is that they should stop paying sick pay and move people on to SSP much sooner. That would soon flush out the chancers.

    That isn’t necessary. There are plenty of private sector employers who pay full sick pay. What’s required is more careful scrutiny of the reasons why people are going off sick.

  • willowfield

    I pretty much agree with you, Comrade.

    I would reiterate, though, that it is not necessarily a public/private divide, but rather a large organisation/small organisation divide.

    It’s easier to skive in a large organisation than in one where you are more easily noticed, and also less likely that you will skive where you are more likely to feel that you have an important role in the company and the company will suffer as a direct result of your absence.