Real business behind Budget cuts

2nd July 2010 at 01:00

Unions have a duty to defend their members and speak out against threats to them. I plead guilty to calling the Budget "destructive" and "the unacceptable face of coalition and the 'road to ruin' for our public services" (Editorial, June 25).

But the unions' approach has to be "shrewd". The effects of the Budget and the comprehensive spending and pensions reviews are not just about teachers' pay and pensions. We are "all in this together", but not in the way the Government means. Politicians can't claim solidarity as they won't lose their jobs.

To protect services and pensions, we must argue for fairness, not plead for special treatment. We must make the case for the valuable services our members provide.

Voice is concerned about the financial situation of lower-paid support staff members as costs rise. If we all have to retire later, what impact will the reduction in vacancies created by those who retire have on those trying for their first job?

Academies receive state funding, so they won't be immune, and teacher recruitment and retention will suffer across the board.

The Government must talk to the unions. If it is prepared to write to some public sector staff as part of its "axe factor" spending challenge in a bid to involve them, why not talk to the unions that represent them? Ministerial silence on that front has been deafening.

The Coalition needs to realise that the consequences of this Budget are so serious that they could divide or defeat it.

Philip Parkin, General secretary, Voice, Derby.

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