Monday, 5 March 2012

Rise in public sector job losses exposes government's cuts agenda

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released figures detailing job losses in the public sector for 2011 by region. As the This is Cornwall website explain:
"The South West has been hit harder than any other region in England by public sector job losses which last year outnumbered those created in the private sector by more than six to one. Some 6,000 new private sector jobs were created between July and September, while 37,000 public sector workers lost their jobs, according to ONS. The drop of 7 per cent highlights the region's reliance on state-funded jobs and has been described as "appalling" by unions. They say the Government should rethink its flagship policy to reduce the deficit by replacing a diminished public sector with newly created positions in business."
A spokesperson for Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance told Cornwall's Pirate FM:
"These figures are a devastating indictment of the Tory-led government's programme of austerity measures and cuts in a number of ways.

"First they affect the person losing their job directly. The government claimed when they first started shedding jobs in the public sector, that the slack would be taken up by jobs created in the private sector. At the time we said that was unlikely as many private sector jobs are dependent on contracts outsourced from public sector departments. We have been proven right as the figures also show that new private sector jobs have not been created at anything like the same rate as public sector jobs have been lost. There are 2.67 million unemployed people across Britain seeking less than half a million jobs so there are more than five people for every vacancy.

"Second, this gives the lie to the government's 'work experience' scheme or 'workfare' in which job seekers are forced, despite the government's claims to the contrary, to work without pay or face losing their benefits. The government claims to believe that flipping burgers in Burger King or stacking shelves in Tesco or Poundland will help the more than one million young people currently out of work find a job. But as we can see, the jobs are simply not there for them to go to. Indeed this kind of unpaid work will only reduce the likelihood that those employers will need to take on more staff on a paid basis as they have a constant stream of workers that the government is forcing to work for them for nothing.

Third, these figures demonstrate the loss of services the shedding of jobs represents. The jobs being lost are not simply 'back office' staff, as if somehow the 'frontline' services can be provided without the support of office staff, they are the jobs of nurses, teaching assisstants, benefits staff and job centre workers. The services these workers provide are being hit at precisely the time that are most needed by ordinary people suffering because of the economic crisis.

"These cuts and job losses are particularly devastating in a place like Cornwall where people rely on public sector employment as jobs in the private sector can be disproportionately seasonal, temporary and part-time. Furthermore cuts in public transport affect people in a rural area more than those in a more urban environment. Similarly, the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust is having to make cuts of £20 million to its budget which is resulting in job losses and ward closures. If patients and relatives have to travel from Land's End to Truro, for example, this makes life much more difficult for often elderly and vulnerable people.

We need to send a message to the government to think again. The best way we can do that is to support the co-ordinated public sector strikes on 28 March. On that day around 700,000 public sector workers will be striking against government attacks on their pensions. But as many workers made clear on the 3000-strong march and rally in Truro in Cornwall on the last co-ordinated strike day last November, they are striking not just to protect their pensions but also to protect jobs and to defend the public services they provide. We should all join them on that day in Truro or on marches and rallies around the country to send a message to the government that we will not take their agenda of cuts lying down but will fight until they are stopped."
To listen to Pirate FM on the hour every hour this afternoon (Monday) to hear excerpts from the above comments in the news bulletin, click here and then click on 'Listen Live'.

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