No, the Telegraph, it’s not just the ‘bloated public sector’ striking

A CWU picket line and a Telegraph headline
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Right-wing shitrag the Telegraph ran an article on Sunday 27 November criticising NHS workers for striking. Of course, in reality it was little more than a poorly-written piece of gammon catnip with a clear pro-privatisation bias. Moreover, the article was devoid of actual facts.

Telegraph: bloated with bullshit

Economics editor at GB News Liam Halligan wrote the hit-piece on public sector workers for the Telegraph, with a predictably divisive headline:

The bloated public sector is showing its contempt for taxpayers with plans to strike

Demands for double-digit pay rises fail to recognise the suffering felt by private workers

The article comes as various NHS workers are preparing to strike. In the piece, Halligan admitted that:

Yes, hard-working front-line state employees deserve a decent pay rise.

However, his overall points were that:

Read on...

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  • Workers are asking for too much money.
  • Higher-paid public sector workers shouldn’t be asking for more money at all.
  • Public sector workers have had it easier than private sector ones.

Halligan wrote a clear piece of propaganda, pitting worker against worker across a thinly-veiled pro-privatisation narrative:

Twisting the truth

Of course, the article was also littered with holes and mistruths – as one reader pointed out in the comments:

A reader comment which reads "A shameful piece of dim-witted click bait with distorted facts. Comparing public and private sector pay makes limited sense - a lot of public sector made of up of nurses and teachers who had to undergo professional qualifications - compared based on qualification not simplistically public vs private sector. Also what has been wilfully neglected is the pay erosion of many years of subinflationary pay rises over the last decade which does not match the private sector. Honestly telegraph has become lame low brow clickbate rather than any articulate, accurate balanced jounralism. Oh yes and the much touted house price 'crash' that telegrpah has totued for years..... Liam - either you sacrficed your journalistic integrity on orders to write this, or your IQ is <100. Cancelling subscription, found Times far more interesting"

For example, Halligan claimed that:

Average public sector wages were £579 per week in 2021, compared to £536 in the private sector.

Here, he has cherry-picked one figure. As BBC News wrote, private sector pay is actually more than public sector pay when you take bonuses into account. Moreover, when regular public sector pay is adjusted to factor in demographics like gender and ethnicity, it is lower as well. Plus, as BBC News wrote:

public-sector workers are more likely to be highly educated professionals who command higher wages in the labour market.

So, overall Halligan’s article was a load of BS opinion pretending to be economic analysis. However, the GB News hack also missed another critical point in his hit-piece: that private sector workers are also striking.

Private sector strikes

For example, nearly all of Jacob’s Cream Crackers’ workers have recently gone on indefinite strike. As the Guardian reported, bosses have offered staff at the Aintree factory repeated real-terms pay cuts. So workers have walked out, and Jacob’s has chosen to move production of crackers to Portugal. However, crucially, the Guardian noted that:

Workers from rival biscuit maker Fox’s recently secured a 13.5% pay rise over two years after threatening strike action backed by the Unite union while those at Heinz’s condiment factory in Telford won an 11% pay rise this week.

Meanwhile, as the Canary recently reported, cleaning, catering, and housekeeping staff in the private health sector have won repeated pay rises after they protested and campaigned.

Then, two of the biggest private sector strikes Halligan failed to mention in the Telegraph were that of the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) against Royal Mail, and the National Union of Rail, Transport and Maritime Workers (RMT) against privatised rail companies. Moreover, charity sector workers are also striking, with staff at homelessness organisation Shelter walking out over pay.

Blood vessel-bursting gammon-fodder

Of course, readers of the Telegraph didn’t consider this, with one person even commenting the private sector ‘can’t strike’:

A comment that reads: "Once again private sector who can’t strike and haven’t a gold plated pension being made to pay for idle,inefficient public sector.We need a right wing revolution in 2024"

Telegraph readers will digest Halligan’s very obvious divide and conquer propaganda and burst a blood vessel over the “bloated public sector”. But in reality, it doesn’t matter if workers are in the public, private, or charity sectors. Everyone is feeling the effects of the Tories’ capitalist race-to-the-bottom agenda. And no amount of poorly-written drivel from Halligan will change that.

Featured image via puffernutterlou – YouTube and the Telegraph – screengrab 

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  • Show Comments
    1. The comment about workers in the private sector being unable to strike rings true. BBC News: “In 2021, 50% of public sector workers – including people like teachers and health workers – were in a union, compared with 13% of private sector employees.” Once workers join a union, they might well find an organisation committed more to achieving peaceful compromise with their class enemy, the employer, than confronting it and demanding true workplace democracy. The role played right now by the TUC, the CWU et al is not one that socialists recognise as being on the side of the working class.

    2. No, the Telegraph, it’s not just the ‘bloated public sector’ striking
      Point we must all remember is Tory Govt is keeping wages low
      to benefit the rich already business that fund the Tory party.

      Fact is Tory Govt are changing the laws plus rules that take workers’ rights
      away from them to complain when their boss are under paying them now.

      Sunak the new wages increase you Tories set for April 2023
      How many firms will pay this wage amount you set??
      You Tory kept wages low to benefit the rich business ONLY.
      The Stricker now are seeking what they are doe from Govt and the rich
      business people we worker keep in a good living they like.

      So, I say if rich business people plus Tory Govt will not pay our U.K.
      WORKERS that rights amount of wages the new increase set by
      Tory Govt keep striking workers bring U.K. to a stop– full stop!!

      The Tory Govt is to blame for rigging the wages market years ago
      to use cheap Migrant workers in U.K. firms now we have Brexited the
      E.U. Our U.K. firms will & must have to pay British workers the rights wages now.
      To Sunak + all Tory Govt members Brexit means NO Cheaper migrant
      Worker working for slave wages British people want full wages sort your
      C**p OUT NOW of wages fixing the benefit the rich Business that fund Tory party from outside U.K.+ inside the U.K. areas ONLY.
      Make it law they must pay fully amount of new wages set by Sunak +Hunt including Tory party M.P.+ Minister now in their last budget statement in NOV –2022 they all voted for worker of the U.K.

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