UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis has condemned today’s Autumn Statement … even before it has been delivered by Chancellor George Osborne.
Dave Prentis said: “I have little faith the Chancellor’s Autumn statement will bring any relief for workers. This is now the Government’s fourth attempt at reviving the economy and their last chance to ditch austerity.
“All they’ve announced so far is recycled money. Existing money which was already allocated and budgeted for, not additional fundings.
“Instead of investing and improving the NHS, this government opted for a damaging £3bn top down reorganisation that the public did not vote for.
“Everything we said in 2010 was proved right. It is obvious the government’s plan on the economy did not work: it did not reward workers, it penalised them; it did not protect the most vulnerable, it put them more at risk – and it certainly was not fair.
“Their approach to public spending has been a disaster. The plan did nothing to reduce the deficit and left our public services in dire straits.
“Hundreds of thousands of public-service workers lost their jobs and the promise to cut the deficit not the NHS was just empty words.
“But in a desperate attempt to avoid negative headlines months before the general election, the Government will try to use the same tricks again.
“The Government has been boasting about a rise in the number of people in work but at what cost? A rise in precarious employment is hardly a thing to be proud of. An increasing number of people work part-time because they can’t find a full-time job, not to mention those on zero-hour contract, those self-employed and those whose full-time salaries are not enough to cover bills, rent and food.
“If workers are not feeling the benefits of the so-called recovery then who is? Bankers, and those on already huge salaries? Making the rich richer by all means necessary; that’s what this government stands for.
“When Osborne promised that ‘success’ will be shared. What he meant is that success will shared amongst the rich. The government have nothing but contempt for the hardworking people in this country.
“Their treatment of NHS workers is a tragic reminder of this. The NHS is on the brink of its worst winter in years. Staff morale is at all time low and they have taken a bold move by going on strike twice this year.
“A 1% pay rise for all is what the government denying them. They now have a major dispute in the NHS on their hand. This dispute will not go away unless the government starts negotiating a fair pay deal for the millions of workers who make the NHS the unique institution it is.
“If the government is serious about the future of our NHS then they must find the money to pay workers as recommended by the independent NHS Pay Review Body. We are not talking huge bonuses here but an extra £150 a year before tax for a hospital cleaner.
“We also want him to commit to end the waste of money spent on agency staff in the NHS which has gone up 23% in a year.
“We are aware of the financial reality we live in but we negotiated deals for NHS workers in Scotland and in Wales so why is the government so determined to penalise workers in England?
“This is the Chancellor’s last chance to bring some relief for workers and admit he got it wrong.”
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