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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Battle ahead in developed world with public sector unions

Weekly sick leave in Irish public service

The Economist says in its current issue that while union membership has collapsed in the private sector over the past 30 years (from 44% of the workforce to 15% in Britain and from 33% to 15% in America), it has remained buoyant in the public sector.

Public-sector unions combine support for higher spending with vigorous opposition to more accountability. Almost everywhere they have demonised competition, transparency and flexible pay.

While union membership has collapsed in the private sector over the past 30 years (from 44% of the workforce to 15% in Britain and from 33% to 15% in America), it has remained buoyant in the public sector.

In Britain over half the workers are unionised. In America the figure is now 36% (compared with just 11% in 1960).

The Economist says people in the private sector are only just beginning to understand how much of a banquet public-sector unions have been having at everybody else’s expense. In many rich countries wages are on average higher in the state sector, pensions hugely better and jobs far more secure. Even if many individual state workers do magnificent jobs, their unions have blocked reform at every turn. In both America and Europe it is almost as hard to reward an outstanding teacher as it is to sack a useless one.

In many countries including Ireland, there are also powerful combinations in the protected professional sectors, which act no differently to public sector unions.

The Economist: (Government) workers of the world unite! Public-sector unions have had a good few decades.  Has their luck run out?

Finfacts:

Sick leave in Irish civil service almost doubled since 1980s; Average employeeabsent for over 11 days in 2007


Could the Irish public sector benchmarking fiasco provide a case for the DPP?


Irish trade union boss David Begg, 'status,' denial and the economic crash


Irish public sector pay/pensions to rise 16% in period 2005-2010; Pay up 11%:Pensions up 66%; Pensioner numbers rise 43% to 103,400


Irish taxpayer to provide €1bn bail-out of FÁS and university pension funds

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