Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Snow: Public service workers at their best

As extreme snow conditions hit hard, public service workers across the country have as usual responded above and beyond the call. Here are just a few examples from Edinburgh of the human faces behind the numbers of jobs facing the axe or being sold off.

Home carers visiting on foot through up to a foot of snow. The Ranger service providing a 4x4 to get them to inaccessible clients. Other staff volunteering their own 4x4s to help out. The police helping out.

Social workers walking miles in the snow to see clients because there was no other way to do it. They were also visiting other area’s clients en route. Staff who couldn’t get in, working from home and visiting vulnerable people in their neighbourhood on behalf of others.

Council staff leaving their offices to clear paths for the elderly living near their offices. Digging out stuck cars. Taking out cups of tea to a Big Issue seller.

Workers taking over two hours to get to work just to keep services going – and even longer to get home sometimes.

Roads and cleansing staff working round the clock to grit the main roads and keep them clear for emergency services - and often getting abuse for their efforts.

Workers who can’t let a bit of snow get in the way of ensuring public safety and public health.

Bus drivers (yes, we still own our own bus service in Edinburgh) facing challenging conditions to get people where they want to go.

And let’s not forget the workers in the central offices. Fighting their way in through the snow to keep the system running – and often getting their pay docked for the pleasure.

Yes Mr Cameron, when you talk about cutting public services, this is what you are cutting. When you talk about the private sector filling the gap, motivated by profit, you just don’t understand the motivation of public service.

And when you talk about the Big Society, you just have no idea how communities work together already when they are backed up by healthy, properly-resourced public services.

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