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The Budget: as trade unions see it

Trade Unions were never going to see much for them in this budget. Millionaire George Osborne’s claim that “we’re all in this together” never had much credibility with the workers. Even the promise he made in the June 2010 budget statement of a pay rise of £250 for the lowest paid public sector workers, he broke today. More than half of the 1.7 million workers originally covered by the promise are now excluded – care workers, school dinner ladies, street cleaners, refuse workers, teaching assistants and social workers. Trade union leaders were forthright in their comments:

Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary, says:

The overall package is steady as she goes and the problem is where she’s going. And she’s going down. The growth forecast is now worse, the projecting for unemployment is now worse, we’re heading in the wrong direction.”

RMT General Secretary, Bob Crow, said:

This isn’t a budget – it’s a con-trick. The big issues of stagflation, mass unemployment and the attacks on standards of living and public services are ignored and instead we get a series of meaningless gimmicks while the austerity agenda rips through our communities… Make no mistake, this is a class war budget with its roots deep in the playing fields of Eton, designed to shift the balance even further towards big-business and the wealthy elite who finance the Conservative Party.

PCS general secretary, Mark Serwotka, described it as:

A free-market budget beyond the scale of Thatcher. It failed then and it will fail now. George Osborne is unleashing a dangerous economic experiment on the people of this country – the low paid, the unemployed, pensioners, our public servants. In fact, with a further cut in corporation tax, planning regulations relaxed, more profits for business and no guarantee on jobs or any pledge to reduce unemployment, this budget is the exact opposite of what is needed to get our economy back on track.”

Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary said:

Inflation up, unemployment up and economic growth down. The government cannot even pretend that what they are doing is working. The government themselves are adding to the numbers unemployed with their spending cuts before the economy recovers from the ‘Bankers’ recession. At GMB we have tracked over 220,000 job losses already in the pipeline in the public sector. We have said repeatedly that it is not possible to deflate your way to economic growth and a balanced budget…. There is no message of hope in this budget for the millions of Britons and their families facing massive cuts in their living standards.”

Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey, said:

George Osborne just rearranged the furniture, when Britain needed a plan B. Growth is shrinking, unemployment is on the rise, wages are falling or stagnant and this government is creating a lost generation of young people. No one should be fooled by this budget, it’s a mirage from the architect of the most devastating cuts to jobs and services in generations. What is on offer is tax cuts and deregulation for corporations, whilst attacking workers’ rights in small companies. This budget has not actually created any jobs.”

In the Guardian’s panel discussionDavid Blanchflower, professor of economics at Dartmouth and Stirling, New Statesman columnist and ex-member of the monetary policy committee at the Bank of England, says:

The austerity measures which have yet to hit, along with the spike in the oil price, ongoing sovereign debt issues and the dislocation in Japan, all represent significant downside risk even to these forecasts. This budget is bad for growth.”

Richard Murphy, adviser to the Tax Justice Network and  TUC on taxation and economic issues, says its good for tax avoiders except in the Channel Islands:

The new charity rules sound open to massive abuse … the inheritance tax rules on gifts will be keeping will writers in business for years… (and) a new 5.75% tax rate on the treasury functions of large corporations in tax havens (yes, you read that right – 5.75%) will see corporate money flowing out of the UK faster than it will be possible to count.”

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