Up to 350,000 public sector jobs will be axed over the next five years, risking potential “workplace guerrilla war”, the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) has warned.
The HR professional body said predictions that the job market was starting to improve were premature and the worst was yet to hit the public sector.
John Philpott, chief economist and director of public policy at the CIPD, said the “bloodbath in the public finances” being implied by the government would lead to 30,000 job cuts in local authorities next year and 350,000 cuts across the public sector by 2014-15.
He said: “The public sector has yet to feel the full impact of the recession, and the resultant bloodbath in the public finances.
“Given the state of the public finances, the likely scale of job cuts required will also be greater than what might reasonably be expected from improvements in efficiency and will therefore inevitably have an impact on levels of public service provision.”
He warned that the level of job cuts would be so intense that it could lead to recurring unrest in the public sector over the next five years.
“As a result the coming era of public sector austerity might not only witness large scale job cuts but also an ongoing ‘workplace guerrilla war’ marked by waves of major public sector strikes and regular bouts of unrest,” he said.
Philpott added, losing this many jobs in the public sector would have an indirect impact on the private sector, but the economy should be strong enough from 2011 onwards to offer opportunities for some of those who lose their jobs in the public sector.
“The greater job security and relative generous pay and pensions packages enjoyed by public sector workers will soon be a thing of the past,” he said.
Earlier in the week Gloucester County Council revealed it would cut over 200 management and administration jobs in the next two years to address a £60m funding gap, while Nottingham City Council announced 450 redundancies last week to make up a £14m budget shortfall.
Gordon Brown criticised Conservative plans to cut Whitehall department budgets by 10% if they win the next election, and said the efficiencies would lead to up to 70,000 frontline job cuts.