UK trade union bodies warn of risk to regional economies from cuts

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date: Tuesday 14 September 2010

embargo: For immediate release

Representatives of the Scottish, Welsh and Irish trade union centres met with the TUC at its annual Congress in Manchester today (Tuesday) to discuss the impact of the coalition Government's economic policies. The proposed cuts in public spending will hit the devolved nations hard, as well as many of the most vulnerable areas and regions of England.

The latest unemployment figures, due out tomorrow (Wednesday), are expected to show rates remaining high across the UK, with young people particularly hard hit, says the TUC.

The four union bodies agreed to call on the leaders of the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to collaborate in emphasising to the UK Government the consequences of its policies for the economies of the devolved nations and the English regions, particularly for jobs in the private and public sectors.

The union bodies will urge the leaders to make the case for a more sensible timescale for deficit reduction, for much more emphasis on closing the fiscal gap through fairer taxation, and above all for investment in growth.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'Taking the axe to public spending not only threatens to derail our fragile economic recovery, it could also open up a new North/South divide - creating mass joblessness across huge swathes of the country.

'But there is an alternative to the Government's slash and burn approach and the TUC will be making the case for a strategy of investment to promote growth across the UK.'

Scottish TUC General Secretary Grahame Smith said: 'The devolved administrations have a responsibility to make the UK Government fully aware of the disastrous impact its policies will have on jobs, services and economic growth.

'Concern over the cancellation of the carrier contract has highlighted the potential effect that the planned savage cuts in public spending will have on the private sector and the very real danger that the good work of the previous government to support UK manufacturing through progressive procurement will be undone.

'The STUC's There is a Better Way campaign will engage workers and communities in campaigning for an economic policy geared to investment in jobs, growth, a living wage and fair taxation as the means of securing the public finances and we expect Government at all levels to stand with us.'

Wales TUC General Secretary Martin Mansfield said: 'It's vital that the progressive policies of the Welsh Assembly Government are not undermined by unnecessary and callous UK Government cuts when we are already underfunded.

'We face the real possibility in Wales that our already weak private sector will be hit by a double dip recession caused by UK Government policy, while whole communities will suffer cuts to services and benefits at the time when unemployment will increase.

'The devolved administrations must work together to oppose the UK Government cuts which have the worst impact on those countries and regions least able to provide alternative employment and those most reliant on vital public services. Top of the list must be ensuring that the UK Government recognises and addresses the disproportionate effect of their cuts on the devolved nations.'

Irish Congress of Trade Unions Assistant General Secretary Peter Bunting added: 'Millions of workers and their families will be adversely affected if these cuts are forced upon the regions and nations of the UK. For the people of Northern Ireland, as in Wales, Scotland and the English regions, these cuts are unjustified, unnecessary and undemocratic.

'There is no mandate for these cuts which are too deep and too fast. We fear that they will reverse years of hard work to rebuild our society.

'The trade union movement across the UK is speaking with one voice in saying that these unnecessary cuts can and must be resisted, and we urge all sectors of our society, from large businesses to small local community groups, to unite in opposition and to support realistic and fairer alternatives to this misguided strategy.

'It is crucial that the politicians who we have voted for, especially in the devolved regions, speak out and join with civil society in support of a better and fairer way.'

NOTES TO EDITORS:

- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk

Contacts:

Media enquiries:
Rob Holdsworth T: 020 7467 1372 M: 07717 531150 E: [email protected]

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