In Britain too, public workers under fire

Chancellor* George Osborne careened ahead with disastrous economic policies Nov. 29 as he launched a vicious new attack on public-sector workers.

He imposed a harsh new clamp on public-sector pay and ordered the destruction of national pay bargaining.

Multimillionaire [Conservative MP] Mr. Osborne told millions of public-sector workers who are currently suffering a two-year pay freeze that their pay would be capped at a measly 1 percent for a further two years after 2013.

In a dictatorial outburst which enraged the unions, he said that pay review bodies will be asked to consider local pay differentials so that "public-sector pay can be made more responsive to local labor markets."

Civil Service Union Prospect protested that its members are now facing an effective pay cut of 15 percent.

"Our members are dismayed that on the day before they hit the streets over pensions, the Chancellor is aiming yet another punch at them," said general secretary Paul Noon.

North East Labor MP Grahame Morris warned that pay differentials would hit his struggling area very badly "and squeeze living standards even further."

Delivering his Autumn Statement [treasury report focusing on economic growth and government finances] to Parliament on the eve of the Nov. 30 huge public sector strike, the Chancellor brazenly accused the unions of "damaging our economy."

He launched a new £15 billion wave of public spending cuts, with spending dropping by nearly 1 per cent in 2015-16 and 2016-17. And he announced a saving of £59bn by bringing forward to 2026 the increase in the state pension age to 67.

Mr. Osborne blamed the crisis in the eurozone for adding to Britain's problems, with his stooge Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) slashing its growth forecast to just 0.7 per cent next year.

If the euro area failed to find a solution to its crisis, the OBR expected "a much worse outcome" for Britain, he warned.

Mr. Osborne attempted a few economic conjuring tricks aimed at pumping a little life into Britain's fraying infrastructure.

But basically he rejected urgent demands for a Plan B for the economy - sticking instead to his kamikaze-style Plan A.

In a shameless performance, he promoted a massive sale of council homes [public housing] declaring that the Right to Buy policy was "one of the greatest social policies of all time."

The state pension will rise by £5.30 to £107.45 next April based on September's CPI inflation index. But there will be a big cut in spending on Working Tax Credit [for low income workers].

Mr. Osborne published a "National Infrastructure Plan" which involves cutting £5bn government spending from other programs.

*The Chancellor of the Exchequer is the title held by the British Cabinet minister who is responsible for all economic and financial matters. The Chancellor controls the government's treasury department. In British politics, the position is the most powerful office after the Prime Minister.

This article originally appeared in the Morning Star newspaper, the daily newspaper of the Left in the United Kingdom.

 

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