A perennial target of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s hateful policies is the federal public service work force. Harper claims that fat-cat public employees collect much bigger pay packets than their counterparts in the private sector. Unfortunately for the Tory regime, a report by Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Office puts the lie to his claim, at least in part.
Almost all increases in federal public service pay over the last 11 years have merely kept up with inflation. New hires comprised about half of the extra $7.8 billion in pay for the workers between 2001-02 and 2011-12, the report shows.
Salaries accounted for about 47 per cent of the increase, the office says, but 96 per cent of that was just to keep pace with inflation over the 11 year period.
“The reality is, employees took a pay cut while the Conservatives went on a hiring binge” said NDP Treasury Board critic Mathieu Ravignat.
“They are using the public service as whipping boys and as a wedge between those who are having a hard time at the moment and public servants”, said NDP MP Paul Dewar, who asked the budget office to determine the cause of rising federal labour costs.
Dewar said the findings show Conservative Treasury Board President Tony Clement did not have the facts before launching an attack against the public service which he called bloated.
The PBO also seemed to dismiss the myth that costs have been driven by reclassification, that is, moving public employees into higher pay categories. Costs due to classification added less than 5 per cent of the total increase, the PBO found.
A point glossed over by NDP spokespersons is this: freezing or cutting the wages and jobs of public employees is not going to benefit workers in the private sector. Quite the opposite. It only whets the appetite of the ruling rich to hammer private sector workers, especially those who have no union representation. The clear answer is for workers to organize, unite and fight the attacks together.