I don’t know what the government’s playing at by playing pretend with the pay freeze.
It clearly is backing down on this pay freeze, but it just doesn’t want to say it out loud, either because of insecurity or arrogance.
After yesterday’s meeting with angry unions, they’ve agreed a whole bunch of things, including promising to now consider cost of living increases for public servants.
Well, what is a cost of living increase if not a pay increase aka backing down on the pay freeze?
Clearly they’re using weasely words like ‘cost of living increase’ to avoid having to admit they got it wrong and they’ve changed their minds.
But by doing that, they’re creating confusion, and I tell you what, confusion is not going to make this go away.
Because there will be bunch of voters of there who, short of hearing a proper back down, are going to believe the pay freeze is still on.
And there will be bunch of public servants who hear ‘cost of living increase’ and think whatever they get is going to be tiny, and they don’t trust the government’s weasel words.
If I was in that position I’d strike. And already the nurses are making noises that sound a lot like threats to do exactly that.
The union is in pay negotiations right now. They’ve reached a stalemate. They’re already voting on whether to strike.
That voting doesn’t close until tomorrow, and frankly, this will likely tip some of those nurses to vote yes, especially if they remain confused and suspicious.
And I’ll tell you what, if those nurses strike, they will have public support regardless of the real reason, whether its’ broken down pay talks or pig-headedness or pay freeze wash up.
The public is now so shocked by the government, and probably so confused by what’s really happening, that the nurses will have the sympathy of the majority of us.
If it wants to cauterise this properly, the government’s going to have to admit they got it wrong and clear up the confusion. They can’t spin their way out of this.