UK unions say 'No to Austerity' as they join European march

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date: 28 September 2010

embargo: 00.01hrs Wednesday 29 September 2010

Trade unionists from the UK will be in Brussels today (Wednesday) to take part in a No to Austerity march and rally organised by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) to protest at the huge cuts in public spending taking place across the continent.

Later today the tens of thousands of workers on the march will send a strong message to European heads of government that jobs and growth, not cuts and austerity, must be the priority.

With virtually every government across Europe either in the midst of huge public spending cuts or about to embark on an austerity programme, unions in Europe believe that deep cuts in spending risk jeopardising the continent's fragile economic recovery.

Leading the march, which sets off at 1pm from the Gare du Midi in Brussels, will be ETUC General Secretary John Monks and ETUC President Wanja Lundby-Wedin, accompanied by the leaders of 50 trade union organisations representing workers from 30 European countries.

To coincide with the ETUC No to Austerity march, Spanish unions are striking in protest at cuts introduced by their government, and there will also be anti-cuts demonstrations in Portugal, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Serbia, Romania, Poland, Ireland and France.

The ETUC march and rally is one of the first events to take place since the launch of the TUC's All Together for Public Services campaign at the Congress in Manchester earlier this month.

With fears that the cuts announced by the UK Government are already hitting the most vulnerable hardest, and with more cuts set to be announced next month, unions in towns and cities across the UK - including Nottingham, Newcastle, Leeds, Northallerton and Belfast - will also be using today to raise awareness amongst local residents of the impact the cuts will have on their communities.

Next month - on Tuesday 19 October, the eve of the Comprehensive Spending Review - the TUC's All Together for Public Services campaign will be holding a rally in Central Hall, Westminster followed by a mass lobby of Parliament in protest at the scale of the cuts planned. The rally will start at 12.30pm and will be opened by TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'All across Europe governments have become obsessed with immediate deficit reduction and are embarking on cuts programmes of such magnitude that the fragile recovery of the continent's economies is threatened.

'Unions aren't asking governments to ignore the deficit, just to discard the timetable that demands deficit reduction now and instead to concentrate on boosting growth and jobs. We also need a fairer system of taxation so that Europe's economies can get back onto a firmer footing and avoid the risk of another recession.

'If there was ever a case why severe cuts in spending are not the answer we need look no further than across the Irish Sea where the spectre of a double-dip recession is looming large, and where despite huge cuts in spending, Ireland faces another austerity budget, its fourth in two years.

'Earlier this month the TUC published research showing that the UK's poorest 10 per cent will be hit 13 times harder by the Government's spending cuts than the richest ten per cent.

'Despite Government promises to the contrary, the cuts are already proving deeply unfair. But there is an alternative, one that won't hurt the poorest hardest nor increase the north/south divide, and over the coming months we'll be working hard to get this message out to the public and to make the Government think again.'

NOTES TO EDITORS:

- The TUC research - Where The Money Goes - shows that the bottom 10 per cent of the population will suffer reductions in services equivalent to 20 per cent of their household income, while the richest 10 per cent will lose the equivalent of just 1.5 per cent from cuts that the Government plans to implement by 2013. Across the income distribution, the poorer the household, the more they will lose.

- The authors of the research are Tim Horton, Research Director at the Fabian Society, and Howard Reed, Director of Landman Economics. The full report is available to download at www.tuc.org.uk/extras/wherethemoneygoes.pdf

Media enquiries:

Liz Chinchen T: 020 7467 1248 M: 07778 158175 E: media@tuc.org.uk
Rob Holdsworth T: 020 7467 1372 M: 07717 531150 E: rholdsworth@tuc.org.uk

Patricia Grillo, ETUC T: +32 2 224 0430 M: +32 (0) 477 77 01 64 E: pgrillo@etuc.org

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