No, I was thinking about this a bit today (because I don't have anything else to do...joking) and I believe it's because even though tech and operator trades both require high levels of knowledge and commitment, the fact is that tech trades have to apply it near 100% of the time (or the ship won't work), whereas it's possible for an operator to slack off for long periods of time and not appear to lose anything. But the fact is that when the crap hits the fan it becomes very obvious who kept up their training and who didn't, and an operator has to do a lot of reading and practicing to maintain a decent edge, no matter how much talent he may have.
Short form - a tech has to learn everything in his field or he isn't effective 90% of the time. An operator doesn't have to learn everything in his field because he will be able to get away with it 90% of the time.
We have an AB in the section right now who is a posterchild shiftless operator. He's proud of the fact that he thinks we have "nothing to do," while his trade knowledge remains near zero despite the fact there is every opportunity for him to use his own initiative to get to a reasonable level. What's even scarier is the fact that there are a lot of operators in the fleet like that - guys that wouldn't be able to tell you what TASOP stood for. And I'm not kidding. And for that I can see where the resentment comes from. But I earn my spec 1, just as a lot of us do. I really doubt the knowledge level between a junior stoker and a (quality) junior operator is much different, but the type of knowledge is. The hard/dirty work, first aboard/last ashore business comes down to the old "I didn't make you choose your trade," as bad as it sounds. I can see spec 2 for P2 and above stokers, but why not for 6B operators, too?
Furthermore I apologize for the booksmart comments, as I was getting a bit snippy. But I'm pretty worn thin from the bitching, as it has been going on since the change was announced and continues to go on.