So much for those "overpaid public sector workers"

Treasury Board President Tony Clement often sounds like a broken record, taking shots at the public service whenever he can.

If he's not complaining about a "complete disconnect" between public sector and private sector compensation, Clement is talking about clawing back salaries of public servants.

Clement must have been disappointed, then, when his office was handed a document last fall that undermined his talking points.

The chart, released to PressProgress under access to information, compares private sector and public sector annual wage increases over the past 20 years. The document was prepared just as Conservative government was getting ready to table its omnibus budget implementation bill containing provisions that attacked the public service.

(C-4 included amendments to the Public Service Labour Relations Act and the Canada Labour Code, including a watered down definition of "danger" to make it harder for workers to refuse dangerous work. It also replaced the definition of "essential" to one described as anything that the government in its "exclusive right" determines is or will be necessary for the safety or security of the public, stripping unions of their bargaining rights.)

Turns out employees in the private sector did slightly better on wage increases than public sector workers, besting federal civil servants in 10 of those years; employees in the federal public sector received a higher wage increase in nine of those years; the two received the same increase in one of those years).

And overall, the two streams emerged in nearly identical positions: private sector employees received an average annual wage increase of 2.125%, compared to 2.016% for public sector employees and 2.105% for federal public servants.

(These small increases in both the public and private sectors help explain why there's been virtually no change in real income growth between 1982 and 2010 among those below the top 10%. As you move up, "distribution gains become much larger." The top 0.01%, for example, saw a jump of 160%.)

So much for that "overpaid public sector workers" line the Conservative government likes to use...

Treasury Board compares public and private sector wage increases 

Here's the original document produced for Clement's office.

Photo: icann. Used under a Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0 licence.