General Secretary

August 2012 | 21.08.2012

'A Future That Works'

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The TUC has arranged a demonstration as a follow up to the March for the Alternative that took place last year.

It is important that the POA membership mobilises and attends in their thousands with their family and friends.

The theme of the march; ‘A future that works’, was chosen deliberately. The focus will be the need to end the austerity policies that have sent the economy back into recession. Of course during the demonstration the POA will be able to highlight its own issues as well as its concerns regarding:

 

 

 

  • Working until 68 years of age
  • Pay freezes
  • Low staffing levels
  • Assaults
  • Budget cuts
  • Lack of trade union rights
  • Attacks on employment rights
  • The Jackson Review and
  • The Beecroft Report.

The unprecedented attacks on our members are unjust. It is time to stand up and be counted and fight back. This demonstration through the streets of London, in my view, should be only the start of co-ordinated campaigning and action. This lays the platform and foundation against this uncaring Coalition Government, a Government that considers it OK to bail out the bankers who caused the financial crash globally because of their unregulated greed and at the same time, hammer public and private sector workers.

Look at the disgraceful attack on the disabled workers at Remploy. Closing 27 factories and putting proud, hard-working workers on the unemployment scrap heap. A callous act by a callous Government. Remploy was set up after World War two when the first factory was opened in Bridgend in 1946. At its height in the late 1980s, Remploy had 94 factories producing everything from office furniture for the NHS and public sector to bedroom cabinets and furniture. At the time of writing this article, Remploy workers will be going on strike and on behalf of the POA I am sure we wish them well in their struggle for justice.

The importance of campaigning

POA members know only too well the difficulties that workers are facing and will continue to face if this Coalition Government carries on unchecked with further damaging austerity measures. Let me be clear why it is important to campaign. The programme of cuts and privatisation now unrolling will transform Britain. While banks are bailed out and the rich are shielded, the great majority of ordinary working people including POA members are set to pay a massive price in job losses, cuts in pay, pensions, and benefits, and the break up of our public services.

None of this needs to be inevitable. It is a political choice. It does not make economic sense. The cuts are deflating the economy and have driven us into a double dip recession. Austerity measures have not worked in Greece, Portugal, Spain or indeed Ireland. What makes this Government believe they will work here in this country? To pay off debts, you need investment and growth. Fair taxation without the tax avoidance to the tune of £120 billion. We need an alternative based argument based on democratic control, planned use of resources, a programme for jobs, and investment in services.

Savage programmes of cuts and privatisation

Cameron and Clegg have claimed we are all in it together, whatever the causes of the crisis, they tell us we have to tighten our belts and pay off the deficit. Short term sacrifice, they say, will pave the way for long term recovery. Absolute nonsense and the opposite is true. The policy of this Government has seen the debt increase from £883 billion which is 59 percent of Growth Domestic Product (GDP) to £1,004 billion which is 64 percent of GDP between December 2010 and December 2011. This is a direct result of austerity. The bankers and politicians who caused the crisis are now imposing savage programmes of cuts and privatisation. They are deflating the economy, causing more debts to go bad, and choking off the growth needed to pay off the deficit. Their vision is a world in which everything is privatised, has a price tag, and is done for profit.

Insist on a fairer future

They are increasing retirement age for POA members and all other public sector workers (and indeed private sector workers) to 68 years of age but at the same time, unemployment is rising with an estimated one million young people unemployed with no prospects of finding a job. They claim they are creating jobs. I have seen some of these so called jobs. Temporary contracts. Contracts with zero based hours and giving people seven hours per week contracts. These are not proper jobs where individuals can plan their lives.

This Government has created fear amongst workers in all occupations and POA members feel that fear as much as anyone else. A system that runs on fear has been created. Not just fear of unemployment, but all the other fears linked with it; fear of eviction, fear of debt, fear of bills and demands to pay, fear of poverty and social exclusion, fear of the boss, the landlord and the debt collector.

We as POA members along with other trade unions and community groups have a chance to demonstrate against this Government and insist on a fairer future not just for us but for the generations coming behind us. If we don’t act now and support 20 October 2012 all our hard fought gains will be lost for ever and we will saddle our children with years of misery without decent pensions, terms and conditions, affordable homes and decent employment.

Trade unions need to be the voice of those that have not got a voice such as our children, our pensioners, the disabled and the vulnerable in our society. Make 20 October 2012 one of the biggest POA demonstrations that we have ever had.

Steve Gillan
General Secretary