Thursday, October 21, 2010

CSR special: the union responses

As you might expect a Comprehensive Spending Review that intends to cut almost half a million jobs and risks losing half a million more in the private sector has provoked some sturdy reactions from trade unions. We've already seen that UNISON are unimpressed - but what about other unions?

The TUC damns the CSR as a "political project". I certainly agree that "yesterday the government launched a radical programme to roll back public services and sack public sector staff, even if this makes it more likely that the economy goes into reverse" although I'm less clear that "Voters have always rejected policies to make huge cuts to public services at the ballot box" is actually true - people did vote for the Lib Dems and Conservatives, and frankly Labour's policy was always for cuts, just less sharp, less fast.

To be honest it comes across as a Labour press release rather than a union one with it's reference to the ballot box.

Public Sector union PCS (which is not affiliated to Labour) has a much clearer, and less sloppy, approach describing the cuts as cruel and immoral. They put welfare cuts to the front of their concerns saying "These £18 billion cuts are a fundamental attack on the welfare state, targeting families with children, the sick and disabled, those on low incomes, and pensioners."

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said "This government has no strategy for creating jobs, and is instead demonising those without them - these are the cruel actions of an immoral government with no mandate and no strategy."

Billy Hayes, leader of the CWU who represent postal workers and others, said that "The volume of cuts also threatens to leave parts of the country away from the south east struggling with mass unemployment as public and private sector jobs fall to Mr Osbourne's axe."

He also pointed out something that I'd noticed too; "At CWU we're confused why the Chancellor included a promise on post offices in his address as there is no detail about how this funding would be provided. The network currently relies on £150 million annually from the government to keep rural and urban branches open, but with no detail this is an empty promise from Mr Osbourne."

Education union UCU says that "It is hard to see the rationale behind slashing college and university budgets when they generate massive economic growth for the country and when the alternative is more people on the dole and the state losing out on millions in tax revenues.

"We are appalled to learn that education maintenance allowances are at risk and funding for people who do not speak English is being abolished. The simple message here seems to be 'don't be poor. It's no good the chancellor describing universities as the jewel in our economic crown and then following those warm words up with massive cuts. Every MP with a college or university in or near their constituency should be clear that the cuts will put those institutions at risk."

Firefighters' union FBU have identified "Ten thousand fire service jobs are under threat from government plans to slash 25 per cent from fire and rescue service budgets over the next four years"

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, said: “These pernicious cuts must be fought to defend public safety. They are not inevitable, but politically driven. The FBU will oppose these draconian attacks on an essential frontline service and robustly defend the key role firefighters play in keeping communities safe.

“We cannot just meekly roll over and accept this. Neither should the employers. Firefighters are professionals – and we won’t stand by and see our service dismantled piecemeal.”

"In announcing the measures in Parliament, Chancellor George Osborne encouraged fire and rescue services to compete for the shrinking pot of public funds. He said that fire and rescue services could “limit budget reduction in return for substantial operational reform”. Measures mentioned include “flexible working arrangements” and “pay restraint and recruitment freezes”.

Matt Wrack commented: “This is pitting one fire and rescue service against another as resources dwindle, rewarding those who drive down pay and conditions and penalising the rest more. It is bullying and divisive.”

The RMT use their frontpage to highlight the various protests that are taking place up and down the country on Saturday (cut and pasted below). Another different tack they chose to take was to attack the rich rather than defend the poor. I like it.

"The “UK Transport Rich List” is topped by Keith Ludeman – boss of the Go-Ahead group – who saw his salary rise by an incredible 35% from £916,000 on the June 2009 figures to £1,240,000 in July this year. Ludeman is responsible for the Southern Trains franchise which recently announced it was axing toilets on the key inter-city route between Portsmouth and Brighton.

"Hot on his heels are Brian Souter from Stagecoach on £762,000 and David Martin from Arriva on £743,635. (A full list is attached.) Company profits show that the big five UK transport operators have posted combined dividends of more than £2 billion since privatisation."

Mr Crow, RMT leader, added "Under this ConDem government the public will be forced to pay through the nose to travel on crowded trains and buses on creaking and unsafe infrastructure while the profits, dividends and top bosses salaries of the private companies are ring-fenced. That is a scandal."

  • London: Assemble 11am at RMT head office, 39 Chalton Street NW1 for march to SERTUC rally at Congress Huse from noon
  • Edinburgh: assemble 11am: at East Market Street
  • Cardiff: assemble City Hall at noon
  • Belfast: assemble 1pm College of Art Gardens
  • Bristol: assemble 11am Castle Park, march to Bristol City Council, College Green
  • Cambridge: assemble noon Parkside Fire Station, rally 1.30pm, Guildhall
  • Derby: 'Derby People's Day' , Market Place, noon to 3pm, Speakers, music and street stalls.
  • Lincoln: assemble noon at Castle Square, march to rally at Cornhill at 1pm.
  • Sheffield: assemble outside City Hall, 12.30

No comments: