Civil servants get two days extra paid time off to party

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It's a tricky business launching a full-scale all-out strike when you're a public servant. You need to work hard to get the public on your side, so that when you put them in physical danger, or cause them immense hassle and inconvenience, they decide it's all worth it in the long run if a hard-working body of employees gets a basic right they are entitled to. It's a battle of hearts and minds.

And one that's not helped by a massive chunk of the workforce taking extra paid time off for a very public knees-up.

Office Olympics
The employees were given an extra two days off (fully-paid) to take part in the Civil Service Sports Council Games - subsidised by taxpayers. Over 1,300 of them travelled to Loughborough University (pictured during a previous event) to take part in competitions in venues being prepared for the Olympics in 2012. Then they rounded the whole thing off with a party, with plenty of the Civil Servants posing for photographs in fancy-dress.

In the mind of the ordinary taxpayer this raises a couple of questions. Why were they suddenly given a couple of extra days off? How can this possibly justified in a time of backlogs, and public failures? Surely HM Revenue & Customs shouldn't be spending so much time sending delegates to dress up as Smurfs and play netball at the taxpayer's expense when they can't even find someone to pick up the phone or double-check their tax coding.

And if, as the bodies suggest, this was all carefully planned so that the employees' absence wasn't noticed, then we should perhaps be asking questions about organisations where 1,300 people can disappear for a couple of days without being missed. Maybe when it comes to a time for strikes we will start to wonder why essentials services can't keep ticking over - if they really can plan ahead so we're not inconvenienced by the games, why can't they do so for the strikes?

And finally, when there comes a time for serious debate and serious strike action will we be able to take them seriously any more? Does a company 'sports day' and a fancy dress party culminating in the conga disqualify them from any claim to seriousness?

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

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