THE leader of Britain’s 6.5 million trade union members is to see the effects of Government cuts on jobs and services in Yorkshire.
Brendan Barber, secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), will visit private, public and voluntary sectors and call for Government action to “make the banks start paying their fair share towards repairing the mess they made.”
Mr Barber will meet dancers and union representatives at Northern Ballet in Leeds, which faces a £1m cut in Arts Council funding. He will also tour Forgemasters factory in Sheffield, which was denied a Government loan to expand, and will be shown the impact of cuts on jobs, charities and voluntary groups in Bradford.
Mr Barber said: “The government’s spending cuts are already hitting Yorkshire hard, whatever Westminster-based politicians may claim.
“The evidence is there for everyone to see – hundreds of thousands of people across Yorkshire have lost their jobs in the last few years and there simply aren’t enough new decently paid full-time jobs for them to go back to.
“But the cuts are not just being felt in people’s jobs, pay packets and rising tax bills. Many local services are under threat too. From cuts to career advice for young people in Bradford to the hundreds of jobs under threat at Leeds NHS mental health trust, vital public services are being scaled back despite the pre-election promise that the frontline would be protected.
“Union campaigns to oppose these cuts will take many forms – from public facing campaigns highlighting the impact of the cuts to meetings with politicians.
“And obviously, where workers feel there is no other way of defending pay and pensions, they may be balloted on strike action. Strikes are always a last resort – and rarely get a sympathetic press – so it’s important for people to understand why action is taken.”
He said the TUC was also putting forward alternatives to cuts.
He added: “We need a fairer tax system – one that makes the banks start paying their fair share towards repairing the mess they made – and an economic strategy that looks beyond deficit reduction and focuses on sustained economic growth.
Yorkshire and the Humber has 700,000 trades union members.