The Government’s planned spending cuts are a political choice, not an economic necessity, and a deliberate policy that will make the UK “a more unequal, more squalid and nastier country”, the general secretary of the TUC will warn today.
At a protest rally held in Westminster on the eve of the Comprehensive Spending Review, Brendan Barber will insist that the emphasis should be on “fair tax and policies that promote growth”.
“Tomorrow the Government will announce unprecedented cuts in public spending – deeper than any of us can remember,” he will say. “They will bite deep into our social fabric – and hit some of the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society.
“At worst the cuts will plunge us back into recession. And at best they will condemn us to lost years of high unemployment and growth so weak that the deficit may well stay high.
The rally, which starts at 12.30pm, will feature union members, community leaders, campaign groups and users of public services and will be followed by lobbying MPs inside Parliament from 2.30pm.
Barber will say: “This event brings together a huge range of people who say that ministers must think again. You will hear from people whose jobs and livelihoods are directly threatened, from those who depend on quality public services, and from those in the private sector whose jobs are as vulnerable to the cuts as anyone working for a local council.”
“What ministers plan is not inevitable,” the TUC leader will conclude. “It’s their political choice and it’s our democratic duty to wage the strongest political campaign of our lifetimes for a change of course. And it starts today.”
In a survey of 500 business leaders released by law firm DLA Piper today, 66% of those from the private sector raised fears that public sector strikes would adversely affect their business. More than a quarter of respondents from larger private companies suggested that union calls for “coordinated action” by public sector worker were a significant threat to business.
However, Nick Squire, partner at law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, said another “winter of discontent” was unlikely to happen, given changes to trade union legislation since the 1980s.
“While it seems inevitable that we will see strike action in some form or another in parts of the public sector, and certain private sector employers may find themselves involuntarily drawn into a public sector dispute, I don’t expect copycat strikes to spread in the same way as they did in the 1970s,” he said.