Comment: Palpable anger in public sector

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As the talks on the extension of the Croke Park deal continue up to this Thursday’s deadline, and amid the dramatic walkouts on Sunday, the tension among public sector workers is palpable.

As the talks on the extension of the Croke Park deal continue up to this Thursday’s deadline, and amid the dramatic walkouts on Sunday, the tension among public sector workers is palpable.

The euphoria from the promissory note deal has quickly evaporated, as the blunt economic realities of these negotiations becomes all too readily apparent.

The government seems determined to reach into the pockets of front line workers, such as gardai, nurses, prison officers and fire fighters, in order to realise more revenue.

These are groups of workers working at the coalface in their respective sectors, and they are workers on which the public are directly reliant on.

They work outside the standard working hours, often anti-social hours, and very often in stressful and dangerous conditions.

Put simply they are not run of the mill, despite a tendency sometimes to take them for granted.

In the health system, for example, go into any A & E department in any hospital in the country on any given night, and the work and committment of these staff quickly becomes obvious, as does the sometimes chronic conditions in which they are expected to work.

Furthermore, in the case of the health service, frontline staff are being targeted, while the HSE is replete with management, from upper to middle. Indeed the HSE now resembles a bureaucracy straight from the pages of Kafka, feeding and justifying a ridiculously bloated middle management apparatus.

Now nurses, along with gardai and fire fighters, face the very real prospect of a further erosion of their pay, as the government has seemingly deemed the double time rate as an unacceptable luxury.

So far, as a society we have taken all the grind and cuts of the past few years with exemplary calm and acceptance.

There are straws in the wind, however.

The growing revolte of the 24/7 Alliance and the growing anger over property taxes seems to signal that many are now taking the attitude that enough is enough.

And indeed, it may well be.