Monday, 12 December 2011

Hutton, independence and pensions

THEM canny old Conservatives thought they’d pulled a masterstroke when they appointed a Labour peer, Lord Hutton, to review public sector pensions.

Surely, given the dire state of the economy, the trade unions and the (taxpaying) public sector workers would go “all right, fair enough” when it came to slashing their pensions, making them pay more and work until they were senile enough not to know their homes were to be seized to pay for their nursing home bills. Even Jeremy Clarkson agreed it was a good deal.

Unfortunately the trade unions did not quite see it that way when you could have a good old fashioned strike, followed by some Christmas shopping.

Wrangles and stand-offs ensued, with, here in Norn Iron, a selection of MLAs dodging the question, not turning into their Parliament Buildings’ offices, and even crossing official union picket lines.

Then, what do we have happening? Well an independent panel reviewing MLAs not inconsiderable salaries and their pension schemes.

MLAs who crossed the picket lines must have known that they have what commentators have called gilt-edged pensions, certainly better ones than the public sector strikers can look forward to.

And, as the media asked various MLAs to comment on their pension review, some magnanimously agreed that they should take the pain too in reflecting the economic catastrophe in our midst. One such was Sammy ‘Ministerial Salary’ Wilson. As a former Chief Examiner of ‘A’ Level Economics, Mr Wilson will be aware that he’ll not feel as much pain from a pension cut as many others may do, and after all his final salary deal won’t be too shabby.

Others on lesser gilt-edged pension deal, did say that the review panel should cut back on their pension deals.

Others still took the view that Pontius Pilate was probably right and there was surely to be a basin to wash one’s hands of the matter, by saying that even if it was the Panel’s decision to leave it the same and award them a pay rise, well it was “out of their hands”.

Some commentators even managed to get MLAs to admit quietly that they would quite like a pay rise as their constitutional cousins in Wales and Scotland got more money than they did.

Err what! Thank you for that, but we should in the interests of fairness point out that the population of those semi-independent statlets is rather more than Norn Iron, and they have less people clogging up parliamentary corridors.

It seems that pension envy is alive and well as well as salary jealousy.

Of course, we the electorate have the power to oust these freeloaders, cutting short their pensionable entitlements. You know the way we do every few years or so; electing a new set of chancers each time. Oh wait a minute, we don’t seem to manage that trick!

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