Boris Johnson’s plan to cut 90,000 civil service jobs marks a return to austerity and will damage public services, a trade union leader has said. It comes as union leaders prepare to meet government officials next week.
“Back to austerity”
The prime minister recently tasked his Cabinet with shrinking the size of the service by a fifth. The government will purportedly use the savings for tax cuts to ease the cost-of-living crisis. However, Frances O’Grady, head of the Trades Union Congress, argued the move would provoke widespread anger.
Speaking to Sky News‘s Sophy Ridge, she said:
This is back to austerity – and we saw how austerity failed not only ordinary people, families, but it failed the country in the end by holding back growth.
How on earth the Government expects to be able to shed 90,000 (jobs) at a stroke and for it not to damage communities in the country, I really don’t know.
Communities will be extremely angry if they’re looking to get hit again in terms of key public services.
In the same interview, O’Grady urged the prime minister to show “basic respect” to those working from home. Johnson has repeatedly criticised civil servants who work remotely and in a recent Daily Mail article called for staff to return to the office.
He added that his experience of working from home, where he spent “an awful lot of time” making cups of coffee and eating cheese, was unproductive. There’s no evidence to suggest that excessive cheese eating is a widespread issue among the general working population.
It feels a bit ironic given the Prime Minister is the classic case of somebody who always works from home because he’s based in Number 10. People deserve a bit of basic respect, I think people who work from home work very hard.
I would have hoped that politicians facing a living standards emergency had more important things to be getting on with. They’re trying to interfere in day-to-day industrial relations between civil servants, managers and their unions.
“A state of shock”
Representatives from the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) will warn that delays in issuing passports and driving licences will get worse if staff numbers are cut. The union has warned of strikes in response to Boris Johnson’s planned 91,000 civil service job cuts.
PCS has warned of the consequences for everyone who relies on public services of Boris Johnson’s plans to cut up to 91,000 @UKCivilService jobs to tackle the cost-of-living crisis. https://t.co/vrDPZyIvsx #NoCScuts #CutsHaveConsequences pic.twitter.com/ullyyBiIyj
— PCS Union (@pcs_union) May 13, 2022
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said:
Our members are in a state of shock. That the first they heard of these cuts was when it was announced in the media tells you all you need to know about what the Government thinks of civil servants.
Our members, the heroes praised by the Government for risking their lives keeping the country running during the pandemic, are now being told their jobs are at risk. Our national conference in 10 days will debate taking co-ordinated strike action. If our members weren’t angry before, they are now, and rightly so.
Making cuts will only make things worse, make waiting lists longer for those seeking passports and driving licences, make telephone queues longer for those with tax inquiries.
We shall fight for every job in the civil service. Not just on behalf of our members, but on behalf of every member of the public who relies on the services they provide.
The PCS will hold talks with government officials early next week. And there will also be an emergency meeting of its executive to discuss its response to job losses.
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