Some public sector Union leaders want to use the “cuts” to trigger a massive Union campaign allied to strikes. When a public sector union goes on strike it is striking against itself and the public. Strikes usually make things worse all round. Strikes encourage people to find other ways of doing what ever the strikers used to do. Strikes usually result in more job losses, not fewer.
Whilst Union leaders and their active supporters are the main cause of strikes, some managements by their words and deeds give them help or cause. It is most important that the current government should not make it easy for the militants by using provocative or inaccurate language. Strikes this winter in public services are not a good idea for any of us.
The Unions say they will be running campaigns against 25% and 40% cuts. In a world where health spending will rise in real terms, and where I suspect education health spending will also be protected, there should be no cuts of 25% or 40% in anythign that matters. Overall, with spending rising by 15% in cash terms over 5 years, the question the government should be asking is a simnple one – can we use the extra 15% to maintain service levels and improve quality, or is all the 15% and more going to disappear in rising costs and inefficiencies?
A sensible management, armed with 15% more cash would seek to persuade the workforce that this settlement is fair, and can be accommodated without compulsory redundancies and with some pay improvements based perhaps on improved productivity. If the officials managing these services instead play political games and roll out long lists of provocative “cuts” which in the end will not be made, morale in the services will be damaged and the militants assisted.
It is a good test of senior officials to see if they have understood the mantra, “Do more for less”. The overall cash spending plans are generous in the circumstances. The endless rows about excessive or inappropriate cuts are far from helpful to anyone, causing some to worry about their jobs and others grasping the opportunity to go back to the old politics of the parade of the bleeding stumps. Surely the new politics of the Coalition can rise above this? Starting by setting out the true figures for increased current spending would help.