Public or private - poor is poor

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Earlier this week Prime Minister David Cameron claimed “red warning lights are flashing on the dashboard of the global economy”, with the UK’s fragile recovery threatened by external forces.

But today Borders councillors will be urged to back a rewards package for staff and elected members, including discounts on shopping.

This news is unlikely to have council taxpayers dancing in the streets of Newtown – or anywhere else in the region – especially coming at a time when many Borderers are dreading the cost of Christmas and New Year.

A report to the full council says these fresh rewards will “assist with recruitment, retention and motivation of the workforce”. And its author, HR chief Claire Hepburn, admits local authority staff already enjoy a range of benefits unavailable to many in the private sector – particularly when it comes to pensions.

But before anyone jumps on the bandwagon frequently fuelled by certain sections of the national press, it should be stressed that some public sector workers are low paid when judged by a variety of yardsticks.

Like their counterparts not in local government employ, they too have suffered pay freezes and cuts in conditions – often the result of actions by those who will rarely, if ever, be remotely classed as being at the poorer end of society.

Life can be tough – whether you toil in the public or private sector.