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The News Line: News NORTHERN ROCK JOBS SHOCK! – Unite pleges to fight compulsory redundancies The Unite trade union yesterday told Northern Rock that they will oppose any plans for compulsory redundancies at the publicly owned bank.

Following the announcement that the Northern Rock restructuring plans will mean 2,500 job cuts by 2011, the union said it is ‘seeking assurances that the workforce will be reduced through voluntary means only’.

Graham Goddard, Unite Deputy General Secretary said: ‘Unite will now be pressing the company for the detailed plans and  will oppose any plans for compulsory redundancies.’

Unite remains committed to the terms of the ‘Unite Charter for a Nationalised Northern Rock’ which include: no compulsory redundancies, job security for the workforce, protection of staff terms and conditions and pensions.

Meanwhile the financial turmoil in the United States continued ahead of the Federal Reserve’s expected one per cent interest rates cut.

Asked if the US is in recession Treasury Secretary Paulson said: ‘What’s important is we know we’re in a sharp down-decline, and there’s no doubt that the American people know that the economy has turned down sharply.’

In the wake of Sunday’s Bear Stearns collapse and sale, two other leading Wall Street banks reported sharply reduced profits for the first three months of the year.

Goldman Sachs posted earnings of $1.5bn, 53 per cent down, while Lehman Brothers, whose shares had fallen sharply on Monday, posted profits of $489m, or 60 per cent less than in the same period last year.

In the UK, public sector workers demanded action from their unions to defend living standards in the face of soaring prices, with the average family spending £1,400 more per year.

As the government’s preferred Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rose to 2.5 per cent, its highest since June last year, and the Retail Prices Index (RPI) stood at 4.1 per cent, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis warned: ‘The government cannot expect public sector workers such as nurses, paramedics, care workers and social services staff to put up with yet another year of below inflation rises.’

Pay talks are due to commence this morning for 1.4m local government workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Unions are demanding an increase of six per cent or 50p an hour, whichever is the greater.

The GMB trade union National Secretary Brian Strutton warned: ‘We expect a decent offer that will reflect the true cost of living with bottom loading to further support low paid council workers. Otherwise we can predict serious discontent which has industrial and political ramifications.’

Peter Allenson, Unite (TGWU) national organiser for public services said: ‘Low paid local government staff have had pay cut after pay cut based on a cost of living measure which defies the reality of life.

‘We want to see serious progress towards giving our members, the vast majority of whom are women, a pay rise which reflects the cost of living in the real world.’

Seventy thousand PCS civil and public servants were on the second day of their 48-hour strike action against poverty pay yesterday.

A PCS spokesman told News Line: ‘Unless the government and the departments recognise that they have to pay a fair and decent wage, we cannot rule out the possibility of further strike actions.’
 
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