I was totally rocked by the news of Ann McGuire’s murder as she taught her class in Leeds, stabbed multiple times by one of her pupils, but as the news unfolded over the days that followed you could almost hear the nation gasp in horror. But this horror and disbelief soon turn to grief when one found out to that she had been teaching 40 years and was due to retire at the end of this school year. As the tributes & flowers mounted by the hundreds on each showing of the TV news, it was clear that she was more than a teacher, to many she was the Mother of the school, the caring, dedicated, nurturing mentor and matriarch of the school. Ann highlighted to me the hundreds of thousands of public employees that go about their essential work in society, across generations, going unnoticed and, dare I say, taken for granted, Teachers, Nurses, Fire Fighters, Police Officers, Social Workers, Health Visitors, Midwives, Occupational Therapists, Wheelchair Services Engineers, the list could go on for several pages. Many of these individuals have one thing in common with Ann they serve the public because they want to make a difference, because they think what they do each day matters, positively benefiting society with their professionalism, with their unwavering dedication, with the best years of their lives.
My own wife has worked for over 30 years in community services of the NHS and only ever wanted a reasonable pay for her work & a reasonable pension, and she never thinks that by working with the public there is a risk. It’s only when exceptional events happen, tragedy beyond words, beyond normal grief from loss of a loved one, that one realises these dedicated people working for our society are vulnerable. This vulnerability is something we must continue to reduce through training, technology and innovation, but without creating a barrier to the work they spend their lives delivering. This dedication to deliver the best they can, despite the obvious risks of working with the most unpredictable of mammals, yes us, should be applauded, celebrate, admired and they should be held in the highest esteem. These people, selfless servants of society, need:
- To be paid more;
- Better ongoing training and investment in their skills;
- Have secure conditions of service (which are not changed to reflect the political point scoring of the Government at any point);
- Importantly have secure pensions (which reflects the toll working with society can have);
- A full final salary pension available at the end of 30 years’ service;
- A guaranteed option to retirement age of 55;
None of the above is not too much to ask, as long as you aren’t asking this current Coalition Government of course. Cant afford it you say, rubbish, the consequences of not doing it is to see our society come apart at the seams as the professions that support us all will not attract the best of us, the brightest of us, the most caring of us, the Ann McGuire’s amongst us and future generations.
There is more though, crimes against them in the course of their work supporting our society, trying to make it a better place, should be treated as the most damning of crimes and met with the severest of consequences. Yes consideration to the circumstances, the mental health of the offender must be looked at, and I am not proposing a knee jerk reaction to the murder of Ann, but offences against people that keep our society going must be treated harshly. Messages must be sent out that to deliberately harm our public servants is now and will always be utterly stamped on with the full weight of our impartial judiciary. The victims of such crimes must also be fully compensated and given the very best rehabilitation available where appropriate, and must not worry for one moment during recovery “how will I pay the bills”, as society through taxation will support such wonderful individuals and their families. Not much to ask really is it?
But I was filled with incandescent rage when the Clegg & Cameron used this incident to raise the profile of knife crimes, with the wanting to be typical Tory toughness reaction, countered with the limp, lacklustre Liberal Democrats want leniency. Neither suggested the importance of an independent judiciary and neither seemed to realise how cheap they were, how classless they were, how utterly shameful of our so called ‘leaders’ to go into political point scoring mode. I really don’t have the words to explain how dreadful I think they were to act like this, regardless of how I think of their politics, they should resign over this, it just isn’t a political issue but a judicial issue, yes laws may be passed but in response to this event but they should just keep their mouths closed. Send you sympathies to the family, promise to get to the bottom of what happened but other than that be silent Clegg & Cameron. This isn’t the only time this week though that I have felt our political pirates in power have dropped the ball, hell far from it. What popped up on the media news streams, only calamitous, callous Cameron doing thumbs up with Stephen Sutton, the remarkable young man with terminal cancer that has raised over £3 million pounds for charity. That smug looking, immoral, shameless media parasite Cameron raising his own profile through a dying young man’s popularity, it’s just not right, not that Cameron cares. If Cameron did care he would have done a whip round the millionaires’ club (the Cabinet Table of Ministers) and match whatever he raises, but this would mean breaking into your off-shore tax havens it was announced many of you have your money in.
These political representatives of our society, or as I call them the pirates destroying our nation by privatising the very organisations I hold with such reverence, need to get their acts together and start supporting our public employees rather than penalise them. Whilst they languish with their millions, with their 11% pay rise, my wife for the fourth year has not had any increase, which in reality means she has had pay cuts as the cost of living escalates. They also threaten the pensions of these public servants of ours, banking on them not taking industrial action, but I say to all the public employee unions that I would have national days of action as it is clear to all, despite your photo opportunities what this Coalition think of our wonderful employees. So ignore the spin as the reality is that this privatisation focussed Government, which is running down our public services so they can be sold to corporations, removing them from public ownership, is:
- Threatening the pensions of public employees, so they work more years for less reward, ending final salary pension schemes (ever heard of a Fireman being able to do his job aged 70, running into a burning building);
- Threatening the working conditions (more hours, less pay, less holidays, less employment rights and debates to remove the right to strike from many of our public service employees);
- New people coming into the many and varied professions of public services are starting on less favourable conditions than their predecessors;
- And as said pay rises have been in short supply so the take home salaries of public employees is worth substantially less now than it was in 2010, as cost of living costs have soared in the same time period;
This is the era of corporations soaking up public services like a sponge, orchestrated by the current Government, who only want to make profit from our public services, our public employees and the dreadful occurrence in Leeds.
Yours most sincerely
Smiling Cat Ventures (www.smilingcatventures.org)
Innovative Minds @ Work (www.innovativemindsatwork.org)
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