Think-tank angers unions over ‘easily manageable’ job cuts claim
Johnstone | 9 September 2011
has been attacked as ‘ignorant’ by trade unions for describing the likely loss
of 400,000 public sector jobs as ‘easily manageable’.
A report by Reform, ahead of the Trades Union Congress
annual conference, says that public services could improve despite the reduction
in posts following the government’s spending cuts.
The Right-of-centre think-tank has urged ministers to
‘reject’ any calls at next week’s TUC conference for a freeze in job cuts.
However, trade unions have accused the report of
promoting an anti-state agenda.
The 400,000 figure is the Office for Budget
Responsibility’s projection of the number of posts that will be lost from the
current 5.49 million strong workforce as a result of the public spending reductions
between 2010/11 and 2015/16.
Reform says that job cuts can go together with better
services, highlighting eight case studies.
It cites Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, which
halved the numbers of deaths in fires between 1997 and 2007, while cutting the number
of firefighters from 1,500 to fewer than 900. Reform also found that Birmingham City
Council saved £56m on staff
costs between April 2010 and March 2011 after using intelligent workforce
planning to reduce the staff headcount, with no major compulsory redundancies.
The report, Reformers
and wreckers, argues that successful management of public services is ‘the
exception rather than the rule’.
Calling a reduction in the number of posts a ‘key outcome of successful workforce reform’, the report
recommends that public sector organisations should replace only nine
workers for every ten that leave. It
also calls for the abolition of national pay settlements for teachers and NHS
staff, with pay decisions made locally.
Reform director Andrew Haldenby said: ‘The best public
sector managers change the way they employ people to make their services better
and cheaper. The TUC recommendations would stop these improvements in their
tracks. A smaller, higher-quality public sector workforce will mean better
However, the Unite trade union accused Reform of
wanting to ‘break up the welfare state for the benefit of the market-driven private
Assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said:
‘Unfortunately, the rhetoric is turning into reality with policies designed to
break-up the national education and health services.
‘Britain and its citizens have gained enormously from the
benefits of the public sector over the past 65 years, where the ethos of
service for all has transcended the profit motive of a few. This ethos is being
seriously eroded by the government.’
Martin Johnson, deputy general secretary at the Association of
Teachers and Lecturers, added that the report was ‘full of ignorant so-called
research’ and did ‘not provide any evidence to substantiate its claim that
deregulating pay and conditions would improve school results’.