The Coalition Government could not be clearer. Although public services have had absolutely nothing to do with the financial crisis that is still blowing through the economy, this Government is intent on making the biggest cuts to the public sector for 50 years.
And they have also been clear that they do not intend to reverse this, even once the national deficit has been paid down. Their vision of society is of an increasingly divided one, where government does nothing to reduce the gap between the haves and the have-nots, and where public services are organised primarily for the interests of private sector organisations who wish to run them for profit.
A key example here is the ConDem plan for a massive transformation of the NHS, against the wishes of patient groups and the electorate, which will allow foreign multinational health companies to carve up our NHS. Look too to the Tory Health Secretary’s decision to allow multinational food and alcohol companies to provide advice on public health. McDonald’s and Pepsico are to be allowed to help write UK health policy, which is like handing smoking policy to tobacco companies.
In local government, it’s now obvious that the cuts are going to be enormous, with most Greater Manchester authorities warning about the potential for job losses and large scale reductions in services. The irony here is that the Coalition are cutting public services at the time when they will be needed the most. In addition, pensions’ payments are to rise, whilst the general pay freeze looks to continue.
The Coalition’s cuts’ announcements keep on coming – from the punishing rise in fees that will place a university education out of reach to many low and middle income families to radical reductions in funding for two iconic Manchester institutions: the Museum of Science & Industry and the People’s History Museum.
The ConDem cuts are plainly unfair. They also risk the fragile economic recovery and they fail to make those who caused the crash pay a proper contribution through the tax system to clear up the mess they made. And the shrill ConDem bleat that “we’re all in this together” is already looking increasingly hollow coming from a Cabinet where 23 out of 29 of the politicians are millionaires.
UNISON will continue to fight the cuts, and will present alternative strategies for dealing with the crisis caused by bankers and inept financial regulations. But most importantly, we will continue to support our members in the difficult times ahead. To do this most effectively, we need as many people as possible to join UNISON and help in our campaigns to defend public services. So talk to your colleagues, join them up and we can start to fight the antisocial plans of the ConDems TOGETHER.