Someone called me lazy and selfish yesterday.
They may be right, I'd like to think they are not.
"Have a good day off" They said.
I'm striking. Not for a day off, although it's nice. Not because I'm selfish, far from it. Am I lazy? Hell no.
I'm a member of Police Staff, a Public Sector worker.
Today is a day of action against proposed pension reforms. The Government want me to pay a greater contribution.
But you'll get it back when you retire, you say? No I won't. If I'm still alive when I reach pension age, I won't get back this additional contribution, in any form.
These extra payments are to help pay off the UK deficit.
I rent my flat. I can't afford to buy a house. I pay for my own gas, electric, water, Council tax, contents insurance, TV licence and so on. Nothing I have is paid for by the Government or anyone else.
I'm proud of that.
I'm engaged to Miss CSI, our wedding day planning has made us realise, we probably can't afford that either.
Do we still invite that annoying cousin?
I'm on a decent wage, but I don't live the life of Riley. I have a few hundred pounds a months as disposable income. Most of which goes on diesel for my car.
I, like most Public Sector workers put in 150% at my job. I work through my lunch, I don't take breaks and I very rarely go home on time.
Do I moan about it? Sometimes. Most of the time, I just get on with the job. Why? Because I love it and it makes a difference and that's the way I am.
I work for a living.
My working week a few weeks ago:
Monday: Rest Day - Volunteered for ten hours with a neighbouring Police Force as a Special Constable - Travelling 100 miles round trip for this force. Most of which is paid by me.
Tuesday: (0700-1500) At work at 0645. Worked through lunch. Got home at 1615. No overtime.
Wednesday: (0700-1500) At work at 0645. Worked through lunch. Got home at 1600. No overtime.
Thursday: (1000-1800) At work at 0930. Had a sandwich whilst at a job. Got home on time.
Friday: (1400-2200) At work at 1330. No lunch or dinner. Home at 2230. On call until 0700.
Saturday: (1200-2000) At work at 1130. Cup of soup before I went out. Off duty at 2030. No overtime.
Sunday: Rest Day working as we haven't got enough staff. Overtime paid. Tomorrow will be my first day off in seven.
This is a typical working week.
Sometimes, home is just where I sleep.
On top of the Pension reform. The Policing budget has been cut by millions of pounds. By next year, my department will be thinner on the ground.
We're likely to lose all overtime, weekend working allowances, shift allowance and on call payments are to be hacked.
The new shift pattern will include nights and seven out of nine weekends at work. With no additional payment.
I'm often on call between 2200 and 0700. I'll get a call and I need to be at the scene within an hour. Anytime of the night, anywhere within the force area. For being on call through the night, I get about two hours worth of pay. I'm happy with this. This will be halved.
All of this means a pay reduction for most people.
The Autumn statement yesterday suggests that even more public sector jobs are to go, which will affect me and my colleagues. If I am still here then, my pay is to be capped after the current freeze.
I don't get expenses for gardeners, second houses, drivers, cars, advisors and I don't take home millions in bonuses.
"Think of all the inconvenience you'll cause" I'm aware of that. What would the point be in striking and no one noticing? None.
I'll lose a day's pay. I should, I'm not at work.
I went to burglary the other day, the tenant let me in. The house was cold. Did she shut her windows and doors? No. She lit all four gas rings on her hob, turned them to full whack and they remained on the whole time I was there.
"I ain't paying for it mate" She says whilst laughing.
And I'm the selfish one.