Unions split over ‘autumn of discontent’

By politics.co.uk staff

Division have emerged between the unions over whether or not to orchestrate an ‘autumn of discontent’ in response to the government’s spending cuts programme.

The Rail Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) and the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) are both seeking a ‘day of action’ around the time of the comprehensive spending review, set for October 20th.

But Unite’s Derek Simpson indicated his reluctance to participate in disruptive strikes yesterday, telling The Andrew Marr Show such action would only reinforce public support for the cuts.

“We don’t have the volatile nature of the French or the Greeks, but I think we do have to have a proper analysis of what’s happening to us, a proper understanding,” he said.

Mr Simpson acknowledged that the public spending deficit did need tackling. But he added: “This is a question of how do you do that, over what period of time. If you’re concerned about ordinary people you do that over a planned and proper period.”

The coalition government is bombarding the media with arguments in favour of spending cuts in a bid to win over the public.

Yesterday prime minister David Cameron argued in an article for the Sunday Times newspaper it was his “duty” to preside over huge decreases in public spending.

“When a company is failing – when spending is rising, sales are falling and debt is mounting – you need someone to come in with energy, ideas and vision and take a series of logical steps,” he argued.

The coalition’s emergency Budget anticipated government departments’ annual budgets will be slashed by 25%, with only international aid and the NHS protected.

Mr Simpson added that he wanted proper scrutiny of the government’s spending plans so that “when we have the giveaways prior to the next election we don’t call for the five-card trick again”.