Wednesday, November 30, 2011

all together now…

Despite my retired state (see my previous blog post!), I’ve just been on a demonstration in support of public sector workers over the government’s proposed changes to their pensions. Some 10,000 people (my rough guess – but it did seem enormous and was probably more than half a mile in length! ) marched through the streets of Bristol.
I HAD thought that the decision to strike on the day following George Osborne’s Autumn Statement was completely wrong – that it would greatly curtail scrutiny of his plans. I have now changed my opinion. His statement seemed only to underline his (and the government’s) ideological commitment to cutting the public sector. At a stroke (where have I heard that before?), he demonstrated the government’s ability to do as it pleased as far as its public servants were concerned.
Osborne’s “growth strategy” is actually dividing society (as well as not working!); polarisation is gathering speed - at an alarming rate. How can he can he justify a 0.1% increase for the poorest 10% of earners against a 49% increase last year FTSE 100 chief executives?
Yes, these are very difficult times, but it’s precisely at such times that political leadership becomes crucial. The government’s policies are seen as divisive (and often presented in an almost confrontational manner) – setting private and public sector workers against each other. Sadly, things haven’t been helped by the rather lame performance attitude of the Labour Party opposition over recent months. People ARE ready to make collective sacrifices but, as things stand, the government’s actions make an absolute mockery of the Chancellor’s “we’re all in this together” statement (from October 2009).
If only we were…
1. In his 2010 Budget, he “declared war on the public sector” and announced a two-year pay freeze (note: Local Authority workers’ pay had already been frozen for a year prior to that – meaning no pay increase for three years)(Teachers’ pay would be frozen from September 2011 as part of a previous 3-year pay deal).
2. Yesterday, in his Autumn Budget Statement, he announced that public sector workers’ pay (once the current pay freeze ended in 2013) would be capped at 1% increase for each of the following two years.
3. Inflation May 2010: 3.34%; inflation October 2011: 5.03%.
4. The OBR’s (Office for Budget Responsibility) earlier prediction that a squeeze on the public sector would mean 400,000 job losses over five years has now been nearly doubled, to 710,000 - as a result of extra spending cuts pencilled in for 2015-16 and 2016-17.

Photo: the back end of the march on Park Street – getting ready for the “off”.


bigdaddystevieB said...

Apologies for various errors in the above (eg. "how can he can he.." and "lame performance attitude" when I meant "lame performance/attitude"!)... for some reason blogger won't allow me to edit stuff and I just couldn't be bothered to delete the post and start again!
PS: I've posted some other pictures of the Bristol demonstration her:!/media/set/?set=a.10150475861058162.417375.647518161&type=1

bigdaddystevieB said...

I've just seen on the BBC website that the police estimated the crowd as 10,000 and Unison reckoned 20,000.
(it was probably closer to half a million!).