Defending Public Services – TUC Motion 2010
Congress believes that the 2008 crisis is being used as the pretext for a global onslaught on public provision and welfare entitlements. Congress condemns the emergency Budget, which will result in the loss of over one million jobs and drag the economy into depression, noting that this coincides with austerity programmes being imposed by the IMF and EU and other institutions driving cuts and Iiberalisation.
Congress rejects the Government's belief that attacks on public services and the most vulnerable in society are a legitimate means by which economic recovery can be secured. Congress rejects the argument that cuts in jobs, public services, pay and pensions are necessary to pay for the national deficit. Congress also rejects the notion that the deficit has to be halved in four years. Congress deplores the coalition Government's demolition of the public services it took years of Labour investment to rebuild.
Their 'regressive' Budget shows a blinkered approach to the economic crisis and pushes deficit reduction to a wholly unjustifiable extreme. £44bn of additional cuts per year represents a savage and opportunistic attack on public services, which:
1. threatens another three-quarters of a million people with the dole
2. endangers a private sector heavily reliant on public expenditure on goods and services
3. depresses consumer demand across the economy
4. brings us to the brink of a double-dip recession.
5. Congress notes with concern that women, many part-time and low-paid, will bear the brunt of benefit cuts. Women also comprise 65 per cent of the public-sector workforce the coalition is targeting.
Congress notes the forecast of the Government's Office for Budget Responsibility that an additional 100,000 will be added to the unemployment figures as a result of this budget and that the CIPD has forecast that the loss of jobs in the public sector could be as high as 750,000.
The two-year pay freeze makes scapegoats of workers who were not responsible for the financial crisis.
The deficit has arisen because the banking sector collapsed sparking a recession. Bailing out the banks cost £1.3tn and the recession hit tax revenues and increased unemployment; it is not because public spending has been out of control.
Congress opposes the attempts by the Government to make ordinary workers and the unemployed bear the brunt of reducing the deficit. The poorest and most vulnerable in society would be disproportionately affected and the economic situation would worsen.
Congress notes the establishment of the Hutton review and opposes any attempt to deal with the national deficit through cuts to public sector pensions.
Congress believes the Government is using the deficit as a thinly-veiled guise to engage in an ideological dismantling of the state and an attack on workers and the most vulnerable in our society, which goes far further than even the dark days of Thatcher. The coalition has no mandate for hard-right economic policies. Without Liberal Democrat connivance the Tories would rightly be voted down in the Commons. The public did not vote for a Tory Government nor policies aimed at destruction of their . public services and the dismantling of state education and the NHS. The labour movement has a right to oppose them.
Congress recognises that public investment and expenditure has been vital in propping up employment and demand, as well as providing essential help and support to those struggling with redundancies, reduced incomes, repossessions, and rising joblessness. The cuts now proposed will devastate public services with a consequent decline in living standards for all, particularly women and those in poverty.
Congress notes the vital contribution public expenditure makes to the wider economy through public procurement, which accounts for at least one-third of spending on goods and services across the rest of the economy. Spending cuts will therefore also have a direct impact on private sector employment.
Congress recognises that public spending drives growth, which benefits recovery in both the public and private sector.
In addition, Congress condemns the reform agenda being pursued (e.g. the Education Act), which will transform the nature of public services away from universal provision for all, towards segregated and differential provision. The austerity agenda will further weaken public services by opening up new areas of public service to outsourcing and privatisation.
Congress further notes the introduction of regressive tax measures as opposed to revenue-raising, progressive taxation measures and is concerned that this economic strategy will result in a double dip recession. Similar measures of austerity in Canada in the 1990s also led to a widening of inequalities.
Congress believes there is an alternative: collection of the taxes avoided, evaded and uncollected from wealthy individuals and companies, which account for £123bn, and more, not less, investment in public services.
Congress sends solidarity to our comrades in Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy and elsewhere who are fighting the cuts and agrees there is an urgent need to establish a similarly wide-ranging united front of resistance against the attacks being carried out in the UK.
Congress calls on:
a. the Government to consult the General Council regarding the comprehensive spending review;
b. the General Council to lead a co-ordinated campaign across the labour movement with other working class organisations and local communities for progressive means of ensuring the recovery and improving the public finances.
Congress resolves that all TUC affiliates will urgently work together to build a broad solidarity alliance of unions and communities under threat and organise a national demonstration, lobby of Parliament and national days of protest against the government austerity measures.
Congress calls upon the General Council to:
i. reject cuts and privatisation and call for innovative public services funded through a progressive taxation agenda, including a 'Robin Hood Tax' on the banks and financial institutions to ensure that they clean up the mess they created, make an appropriate contribution to meeting the cost of their recklessness and act with more responsibility in the future;
ii. demand fair pay, pensions and equality of treatment and defend the terrns arid conditions in national agreements that provide equality-proofed pay systems
iii. defend public services from measures that will increase inequality
iv. consider convening a Convention of affiliates and representatives of users of publicly-funded services and the welfare state to establish a broad alliance against the cuts and maximise the impact of such opposition campaigns
v. publicise the recklessness and illegitimacy of the coalition's austerity programme
vi mobilise maximum opposition to these proposals, including support for ETUC action on 29 September and for continued campaigning at local, regional and national level and fully involve trades union councils in mobilising for these events
vii. build a robust campaign in defence of public services, seeking to publicise and build this fight across the labour movement and local communities as a whole
viii. support and co-ordinate campaigning and joint union industrial action, nationally and locally, in opposition to attacks on jobs, pensions, payor public services-
ix. oppose the unacceptable inequalities within our society, taking every possible step to fight for social justice including defence of the jobs, pay and pensions of public service workers
x. further develop the arguments against these policies through research and the production of pamphlets and other materials
xi. present a clear alternative to the cuts, including public ownership, higher rates of tax for the rich and closing corporate tax loopholes
xii. co-ordinate a national union recruitment campaign in the national media to highlight what trade unions have to offer.
xiii. Congress further calls on the General Council to pursue these policies with the STUC, WTUC and ICTU, and internationally.