THE CBI BOSSES organisation yesterday called for an immediate freeze in the public sector pay bill for two years and a ‘re-engineering’ (destruction) ‘of the public services to ‘help get the public finances under control’.
It said that, after the private sector banking disaster, this pay freeze needs to go hand-in-hand with measures to allow businesses to foster economic growth and job creation.
The bosses want to pauperise public sector workers by cutting their wages by a minimum of 10 per cent in the two years ahead (the current rise in the last 12 months of RPI inflation was 5.3 per cent!).
This will take place at the same time as rising oil prices, a hike in the VAT rate, and the collapsing pound will be adding further percentage points to the cost of living.
Declaring that ‘This is a time for action’ the CBI spells out that ‘freezing the total public sector pay bill from 2010-11 for two years through selected pay and recruitment freezes could save £18bn.’
The CBI also emphasises that there are much bigger savings to be had by ‘a fundamental re-shaping of public service provision, including using the private and third-sector to deliver better outcomes more efficiently. For example, by re-engineering health and social care to treat patients in their homes and in the community more than £8bn could be saved by 2015-16.’
Re-engineering health and social care is shorthand for closing District General Hospitals and replacing hospital and elderly care with care in the community, to be carried out by private contractors or charitable organisations.
The CBI estimates that by handing care in the community over to the Third ‘voluntary sector’ more than £8bn could be ‘saved’ by the state.
John Cridland, CBI Deputy-Director General, rams home the big issue as far as the bosses are concerned.
This is ‘The new Government will need to show strong political will to contain public sector labour costs. It needs to slam on the emergency brake now by introducing an immediate two-year pay bill freeze across the public sector, and sweating its assets to ensure that every pound is well spent.
‘While spending cuts and efficiency savings are important, there is a much bigger prize to be had . . . allowing the best provider to deliver public services will increase innovation, while keeping a lid on costs.’
The approved formula is a combination of savage wage cutting over two years with a sell-off of the Welfare State to private contractors and voluntary charities.
This will produce the mass sackings of hundreds of thousands of public sector workers, and the sell-off of the remnants of the Welfare State to a host of private contractors and charities.
The response of the trade union leaders to this threat is docile and passive in the extreme.
Unison has ‘condemned the CBI’s call for a public sector pay freeze, and warned that hitting public sector wages now would pull down demand for private sector goods, risking a double dip recession.’
It is extremely concerned about preventing an even deeper capitalist crisis. Unison General Secretary Prentis is forced to say as an afterthought: ‘Let’s not forget, the public sector didn’t cause this crisis, and it is wrong for the CBI to expect them to pick up the bill with pay cuts.’
He adds ‘As a union, Unison wants the best possible use of public money. But the CBI is wrong to hold up privatisation as the way to achieve bang for the taxpayer’s buck. There are huge transactions costs associated with selling off services, which the public purse has to pay for. The shareholder premium leeches off more money that could be pumped back into giving the public better services.’
There is not a word here about challenging the pay freeze, and fighting the cuts.
The GMB after complaining about the 5.3 per cent inflation rate states in its press release: ‘we are writing to Eric Pickles as Secretary of State for Local Government to lend his support in line with the new government’s stated aim of protecting the lowest paid.’
The GMB is writing to the Tories for their support! You could not crawl much lower than this!
Trade unionists must demand an immediate meeting of the General Council of the TUC to take action to defend the right to strike and smash the wage freezing and privatisation drives.
The trade union leaders must be forced to call a general strike! Or make way for those who will!