Unions warn of co-ordinated strikes against cuts…(“Order Out of Chaos”?)
Unions tonight warned of coordinated strikes and campaigns of civil disobedience to fight the Government’s spending cuts amid revelations that more than 200,000 public sector jobs have already been axed or are at risk of being lost.
12 Sep 2010
Councils, health authorities, police forces, Government departments and other public sector bodies across the country have all taken an axe to jobs in recent months after having their budgets slashed.
One leader warned that co-ordinated industrial action was ”inevitable” as the TUC prepared to drawn up a campaign of protests against the Government when its annual congress opens in Manchester tomorrow.
Delegates will be asked to support joint union industrial action as well as other forms of protest, with a national demonstration being planned for next March which could attract hundreds of thousands of people in the biggest show of public anger in a generation.
Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, said a campaign of civil disobedience was needed to fight spending cuts.
”Maybe we need Batman climbing up 10 Downing street, Spider-Man on Buckingham Palace as part of peaceful demonstrations of civil disobedience.
”This is an opportunity for the entire trade union movement to come together and mobilise support. Unions should also link up together because we are confronting the same enemy otherwise they will be picked off one at a time.”
He even suggested that people could sit down on roads to highlight their opposition to cuts.
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union said industrial action was ”inevitable”, adding that unless unions worked together to fight back the future was ”bleak”.
”Over 100,000 civil service jobs have been cut over the past six years and we are now being hit by closures and cuts even as the sword of Chancellor George Osborne hangs in the air.”
Mr Serwotka said the cuts will be on a totally different scale after next month’s comprehensive spending review, adding: ”We ain’t seen nothing yet. People are very worried and demoralised and are just waiting for things to get worse.
”While industrial action may be necessary, it is clear the most effective opposition would be the biggest popular movement we have seen for many years.”
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said unions would be reaching out to the wider community to form a ”progressive alliance” to make the case for an alternative to spending cuts.
”I don’t think the public has woken up to the scale of the cuts, but when the reality begins to emerge after the spending review it will produce a very different reaction.
”There will be a search for alternatives to the current strategy which we are convinced will do irreparable economic and social damage.”
The TUC warned the Government that its spending cuts will hit the poorest 13 times harder than rich people, showing how ”unfair” they were.
A study showed the bottom 10% of earners will suffer reductions in services equivalent to 20% of their household income.
In contrast, the richest 10% will lose the equivalent of just 1.5% from cuts being planned for the next few years, it was claimed.
A study by the GMB union showed that 150,000 jobs were lost or are in the pipeline to be cut in over 150 public sector organisations across the UK, ranging from local authorities and hospitals to police authorities and the fire service.
Research by the Press Association showed that another 90,000 workers could lose their jobs because of moves by public sector organisations to cut spending, which is also having a knock-on effect in private firms.
Companies supplying goods and services to the public sector, ranging from public relations to office plants, are now being hit by the Government’s austerity drive.
Union leaders said the total of almost a quarter of a million jobs could easily be doubled as a result of next month’s comprehensive spending review, which they fear will lead to an acceleration of redundancies, fuelling a big rise in unemployment.
According to the GMB study there have been over 7,000 job cuts announced in the East Midlands at seven organisations, 1,700 in the Eastern region (7 organisations), almost 4,000 in London (11), over 2,000 in the North East (13), almost 6,000 in the North West (14), 110 in Northern Ireland (1), over 19,000 in Scotland (22), 8,600 in the South East (18), 8,100 in the South West (13), 1,800 in Wales (4), 8,600 in the West Midlands (17) and almost 7,000 in Yorkshire and the Humber (13).
Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB, said: ”Current job losses already announced in the public sector of nearly 150,000 are just the tip of the iceberg heading for our services and our economy when the comprehensive spending review finally hits home next month. Unemployment and cuts in public services follow the appointment of a Tory-led government like night follows day.
”The ideology of the Tory party is for a smaller state and they are hell bent on using the recession to impose these needless and ideologically driven cuts in public spending.”
The pace of job losses has accelerated in recent weeks following a series of announcements in the summer, including hundreds of job losses in Birmingham City Council, warnings of up to 3,000 job cuts at Nottinghamshire County Council and up to 600 job losses at the Royal Berkshire Hospital Trust.
In the past few weeks alone police forces in Kent and Hampshire have warned of up to 3,000 job cuts, the GMB estimated that Sheffield City Council will have to lose over 1,000 posts to make savings of almost £220 million and Somerset County Council warned of 1,500 job cuts.
The local authority losses follow an estimated 6,700 council job losses in England in the six months to May, with the rate expected to continue for the rest of the year.
The police Federation warned on Friday that up to 60,000 police jobs, including up to 40,000 frontline officers, could be at risk if Government funding cuts go ahead.