UPA (Utanian Press Agency)
Release: May 15th, 301 AP.

Public Service threatens mass strike

The Utanian Federal Public Service has threatened a mass strike if the President implements a progressive programme to increase Utani participation in the public service.

The Utanian Public Service Federation (UPSF), with hundreds of thousands of members, has threatened to call a mass strike if President Okarvits procedes with a programme to introduce thousands of relatively unskilled Utani to public service administrative positions.

The programme calls for increased levels of Utani employed in the public service, and will do so "using market forces", rather than a deliberate, discriminatory hiring policy. In short, it will price non-Utani out of the public service by lowering wages for positions by up to 20%, and making all positions empty, forcing rehiring. Those who refuse to accept their old position with the pay cut will be forced to compete for higher positions in the public service for which they may not be qualified. In addition, funding will be provided to allow every third position to be at the old rate of pay, thus allowing for some retention of skills.

The President denies it is a cost-cutting plan, as the programme would employ more public servants, making it overall slightly more expensive than the current public service bill.

The union is understandably incensed, and the political flak is even coming from within the government. President Okarvits was warned by the leftist Republican Party that it would probably oppose the move in Parliament, and the government-supporting Burovians have similarly moved to oppose it. Curiously the Conservative opposition have cautiously provided tacit approval for the plan.

The plan is only at a preliminary stage, but the UPSF is threatening with a strike of its estimated 350,000 members if the programme is not cancelled immediately. The strike would substantially disrupt many services across the country. A clerk in the public service currently earns an average of Û21,000 a year. A typical Utani agricultural worker might earn Û4,000 a year. Collective farm workers earn substantially less.

©UPA, 301 AP.

©Mike Ham, 2001. All rights reserved. No reproduction without, at least, tacit approval. ;-)