Public employees 'buy houses, cars, groceries and clothes. They spend (their salaries) at small businesses and restaurants.' Joan Jessome.
Halifax (23 April 2010) - The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU/NUPGE) is appealing to citizens across the province to stop public sector bashing and to consider how much public employees contribute to the economy and to local communities and businesses.
"The more the public hears that government is plagued by 'redundancy and ineffectiveness' the more the public accepts that it's true. The more we hear that it's a waste to put money into 'the pocket of government' the more we believe it," says NSGEU presdent Joan Jessome.
"These knee-jerk arguments are wearing away at the respect and value we place on our public service workers. These comments are simplistic and personally hurtful. But most of all, they are dangerous. A weakened and demoralized public service will have consequences for everybody in the province, including even the people who make these arguments."
In a commentary for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, Jessome singles out several community leaders for shortsighted attacks on the public sector, including Tom McInnis, president of the Nova Scotia Chamber of Commerce, and Luc Erjavec, spokesperson for the Atlantic Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association.
McInnis recently called for yet another round of government cost cutting to reduce "redundancy and inefficiency" and Erjavec complained about raising sales taxes to cope with deficits and mitigate the impact of the recession (caused by corporate irresponsibility, not the public sector) on programs and services.
"Salaries make up a major proportion of government spending in the delivery of public services," Jessome notes.
"That money doesn’t disappear from the province, as it easily could if put into the hands of the private sector. No, that money goes into the hands of thousands of people in communities from one end of the province to the other. These people use it to buy houses, cars, groceries and clothes. They spend it at small businesses and restaurants. They purchase services in their communities across this province," she argues.
"Take that money away and what will happen to the businesses represented by McInnis and Erjavec? For their own good, I urge them to tone down their public service bashing. For our own good, I urge public service workers to take a stand against the people who engage in this kind of bashing," Jessome adds.
"Find out if any of the businesses you frequent belong to a chamber of commerce or a business association that is calling for cuts to government. If they do, suggest that if they don't believe there's value in investing in the public service, you'll gladly spend your public service salary at a business that does."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE