UNISON, the UK’s largest public sector union, on Monday welcomed a report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) calling on the government to put a stop to public sector job cuts to boost economic growth.
But the union said the job losses should not simply be put off until the next parliament, as the CIPD argues – they should not be happening at all.
The CIPD ‘Work Audit’ report ‘Public sector job cuts revisited’, shows that the public sector shed almost a quarter of a million jobs in the government’s first year of office, with public sector job losses in the first quarter of the current financial year (2011-12).
This is already five times greater than projected by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) for the entire year.
Taking figures on actual public sector job losses together with the existing OBR projection, this implies a total loss of more than 600,000 public sector jobs between 2010-11 and 2015-16 – a third more than ministers say they expect.
Unison General Secretary Dave Prentis said: ‘The government’s cuts policy means that public sector job losses are heavier than expected.
‘Every redundancy is a personal tragedy and despite government claims, the private sector is not able to come to the rescue. There are simply not enough jobs to go around.
‘Unison warned from the start that hard and fast spending cuts would be a disaster for the public and private sectors – and for our economy. Sadly this has proved true, and economic growth has shuddered to a halt.
‘But we don’t agree that public sector job losses should simply be put off until the next parliament – they should not be happening at all.
‘What we need is for the government to ditch the cuts and come up with with a workable plan B.
‘This must include a plan to stimulate growth, using money raised from a tax on bank bonuses and on transactions.’
The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union said that the latest estimate of public sector job cuts confirms its view that ‘they are damaging our economy’ and raise serious questions about the independence of the Office for Budget Responsibility.
The PCS said on Monday: ‘Figures published today by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development show 610,000 jobs are likely to go over the next four years, the same figure given in a leaked document from the OBR in June 2010.
‘Later that year, however, the OBR revised down its published estimates to 490,000 then 330,000.’
The union said this calls into question the OBR’s independence and suggests political pressure has been brought to bear to deflect criticism of the government’s spending cuts.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: ‘This report shows that the initial analysis by the OBR, which is supposed to be independent of ministers, was spot on.
‘It now seems its figures have been massaged to show an unrealistic picture of the grave problems facing our economy because of government policy, as part of a worrying pattern of ministers obscuring the facts behind rhetoric and half-truth.
‘Instead of ploughing on regardless and cutting hundreds of thousands of jobs, the government should invest to help our economy to grow by putting people into work and putting money in their pockets.’
Meanwhile, a new analysis by GMB union shows that 101,094 jobs have been lost in local authorities in England since the general election in 2010 as public sector cuts add to unemployment levels according to the latest official figures from the Local Government Association (LGA).
A GMB statement said: ‘At the end of the first quarter of 2010 there were a total of 1,584,219 full time equivalent employees working in local government in the non-teacher workforce.
‘At the end of the second quarter of 2011 this figure had dropped by 6.4 per cent to 1,483,124 full time equivalent employees.
‘Kent County Council tops the list for the highest number of job losses with a cut of 3,107 jobs.
‘Before the general election Kent County Council employed 25,512 full time equivalent staff. At the June 2011 this was down by 3,107 to 22,405.
‘This is a drop of 12.2 per cent on the workforce prior to the election.
‘Next comes Manchester City Council with a cut of 2,549 jobs followed by Norfolk County Council (CC) 2,358, Cornwall CC 2,295, Leicestershire CC 2,291, Devon CC 2,110 and Lancashire CC 2,079.
Brian Strutton, GMB National Secretary, said: ‘The awful reality is that in England alone local government job losses since the general election have topped 100,000. There is still more to come.
‘Council workers and their families are paying a terrible price for the government’s austerity drive.
‘These job losses are on top of two years of pay freezes and cuts to conditions and pensions.
‘Care workers, refuse collectors, street cleaners, social workers and all the essential front line council staff are bearing the brunt while those at the top wring their hands and look on.
‘How much more are people expected to take before someone admits that the economy is on its knees and we should be supporting working people not sacrificing them?
‘Many of the job losses have come from not filling vacancies that would have gone to the almost one million young workers out of work.
‘As a consequence these job losses will show up in the unemployment figures published on Wednesday 12th October 2011.’
• Hundreds of young people will travel to Westminster on Tuesday 25 October to warn MPs that the youth service will soon be the first public service to fall under the coalition’s austerity axe, Unite has announced.
Unite has repeatedly warned that that the youth service is vanishing fast in the face of massive budget cuts, the biggest to any public service.
This summer saw strike action in the prime minister’s Oxfordshire constituency to defend a service lauded by him but now facing the axe.
One in five councils are reporting that ‘services for young people’ were bearing a proportionally larger share of the cuts in 2011/12.
Unite said: ‘With one million young people languishing on the dole queue, the union says that young people need more, not less, assistance to find jobs, to seek out further educational opportunities, to avoid gang culture, and to feel they have a future stake in society.’
Young people are travelling from as far afield as Devon and the north west to London in order to lobby their MPs.
‘Choose Youth’ is an alliance of over 30 national youth sector organisations and trade unions, including Unite.’