I just sent this message to my Occupy Edinburgh comrades regarding points to make on the 30 November strike:
Sorry I’m not going to make it this evening. Of course the authorities are trying to spin this as public sector employees parasitising the rest of the population. The facts are:
(1) If you compare pay between people with similar jobs and qualifications then private sector pay is better. The public sector includes more highly qualified people so, on average, the pay should be better in the public sector but comparing like for like, it’s actually worse. To make this concrete, compare the pay of teachers in private schools to those in government schools. In other words, public sector workers do not have it easy. Their pensions are an important part of their employment packages.
(2) If the conditions of employment of public sector workers are worsened this creates less competition for the private sector in terms of attracting employees. They can then further reduce their own pay/pensions. Therefore by defending public sector conditions you are also defending private sector ones. Defend public sector pay and conditions and stop a race to the bottom, where the only winners are the big bosses and the politicians they suborn.
(3) The public sector represents a significant proportion of the population. Even if one cares only about people working for the private sector one should realise that a lot of the money people spend on the goods and services from the private sector comes from pay/pensions in the public sector.
(4) As we should always argue, there is no shortage of money. If the government made a serious effort to collect the £120 billion tax that is uncollected/avoided/evaded every year and significantly reduced pay differentials (by cutting the pay and conditions of those at the top of the tree only) there would be more than enough available. Murdoch’s media are attacking the strike. This is unsurprising as he is one of the world’s most adept tax-dodgers and expert at scapegoating the relatively poor and powerless.
This essay may be of interest. See especially the quote from Richard Layard!
If you haven’t yet looked at these websites, I recommend you at least watch one of the very short videos on them:
(What Steve Keen has to say is also very relevant. )
These are the arguments we need to keep making.