NASUWT banner on the April 11 ‘Defend the Welfare State’ demonstration in London
NASUWT banner on the April 11 ‘Defend the Welfare State’ demonstration in London

COMMENTING on the Chancellor’s budget statement, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the major teachers’ union, said: ‘Despite the Chancellor’s opening remarks that he will not keep anything from the British people, he is doing just that.

‘A £30bn per year reduction in public spending is announced but no detail of where the axe will fall.

‘Despite all the pre and post election rhetoric, schools and education are not protected from the swingeing 25% cut in Departmental budgets over the next four years.

‘Core services are clearly not safe in the hands of this Government.

‘An “independent” review of public sector pensions is announced.

‘The Chancellor then states they are “unaffordable”, pre-empting and rendering the review pointless.

In addition, again pre-empting the review, he imposes an immediate cut by switching from an RPI to CPI index.

‘This will heavily penalise millions of pensioners and their families.

‘The Chancellor claims that he wants evidence based policy making, yet he rejects the recommendations of independent pay review bodies, which took into account the economic climate, and imposes a two year public sector pay freeze.

‘The Chancellor’s assertion that the public sector has been “insulated” is an insult to all nurses and health service staff, teachers and support staff, police officers, fire-fighters and other public service workers.

‘During this recession, they have worked tirelessly to deliver an even greater scale of service to the public in order to mitigate against the worst effects of a situation caused by the reckless bankers and financiers who have emerged from this budget unscathed.

‘In short, this is a dishonest budget on every level which will have a devastating impact on millions.’

Commenting on the publication of the terms of reference of the Hutton Review of fair pay in the public sector, commissioned by the Coalition Government, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the major teachers’ union, said: ‘The exclusion of schools from this Review raises serious questions.

‘If transparency and fairness of salary levels is an important principle governing public sector pay, then there can be no credible rationale for excluding from the Review the comparative pay levels between headteachers and other staff.

‘The Coalition Government’s proposals for greater freedoms and deregulation for all schools should lead Ministers to the logical conclusion that greater transparency and accountability in pay levels will be even more important.

‘Cynics might say, however, that the exclusion of schools is part of a deliberate and calculated Government strategy to flatter and woo headteachers to the policy of free schools and academies.

‘These independent schools will be given control over millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.

Taxpayers have a right to know how it will be spent. It is simply unjustifiable and unacceptable that schools are excluded.

‘I have written to the Treasury raising these concerns.’

On the eve of the Osborne budget Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the major teachers’ union, said: ‘Since 12 May when the Coalition was formed, people have been duped into believing that there is no other way to address the country’s budget deficit than through savage cuts to public services.

‘All the statements by the Government have been designed to make public sector workers feel guilty for the recession and the budget deficit.

‘It is neither the actions of the public nor the pay, pensions and conditions of service of public sector workers which have caused the deficit.

‘The profligacy of the banks and financial institutions caused the problem and the public and public sector workers should not be made to pay the price for their actions.

‘The deficit itself is being used as an excuse for pursuing a political ideology in which public services are no longer universal, local democratically accountable bodies are marginalised and public services are stripped of responsibilities to make way for the profit making private sector.

‘The cuts already announced are impacting on people’s daily lives.

‘The scaling back, for example, of access to free school meals, reduced entitlement to one to one tutoring and cutting the funding for youth unemployment projects will have heavy and lasting social consequences.

‘The constant daily bombardment of the public with the mantra ‘there is no other way’ is a carefully orchestrated campaign designed to weaken resistance to and minimise public outrage at whatever is announced tomorrow.

‘Any voice of opposition is ridiculed and vilified as either being out of touch or greedy and selfish.

‘The voices of those who understand that investment stimulates growth are in danger of being drowned out by the austerity hawks whose core belief is cut, cut, cut.

‘The public is being fed a diet of distortion and misinformation.

‘We are told that Canada’s programme of cuts is a model for addressing budget deficit.

‘Yet the stark truth is that it took place at a time of a booming world economy not, as now, during a global recession.

‘We are told that cutting public services will stimulate the private sector and the economy.

‘Yet the stark truth is that a 10% cut in public services will lead to over 200,000 job losses and take £17billion out of the private sector as a result of reduced spending power.

‘We are told that the country can no longer afford the ‘gold-plated ‘pension schemes of public service workers.

‘Yet the stark truth is that the average public service workers’ pension is £5,000 per annum and the workers themselves will have paid into the pension pot throughout their working lives.

‘For every £1 taxpayers contribute to public service pensions they pay £2.50 to shore-up private sector pensions.

‘It’s time the public was told the truth.

‘This Coalition Government has no mandate for making these cuts and dismantling public services.

‘The Conservatives’ budgetary programme is only being propped up by the handful of Liberal Democrat MPs whose party’s popularity declined at the General election.

‘There is another way but it is underpinned by an acceptance that slashing Britain’s public services isn’t a viable solution in the context of a global recession.

‘Planning for growth not cuts.’

The RMT rail workers union has called for an emergency TUC congress to organise action against the coalition government and its savage cuts programme.

It has also declared its opposition to the invitation that has been given to the Tory leader Cameron to address the TUC Congress in September, and has stated that if this happens the RMT delegation will walk out.