Each month when labour market data is published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), media comment invariably focuses on relative levels of employment and unemployment. http://www.statistics.gov.uk/pdfdir/lmsuk0710.pdf
As Con Dem public expenditure cuts kick in, the implications of reduced employment in education, health, public administration and social care are stark – both for the economy and the future of trade unions which are concentrated in the public sector.
As STUC General Secretary Grahame Smith noted upon the publication of the July 2010 figures last week:
“These figures were published as the Bank of England revised down its growth forecast. It is difficult to identify any grounds for optimism with both internal and external demand evaporating, growth at 0% in Scotland during the first quarter of 2010 and ongoing problems with the flow of credit. The forthcoming massive cuts in public spending and the ongoing decline in real wages means that the prospects of a sustainable demand led recovery are as distant as any time since the financial crisis of 2008.
The coalition government needs to urgently reconsider the measures announced in its June Budget which will consign the Scottish economy to years of low growth and high unemployment. There is also a desperate need for targeted support and job creation for the long-term unemployed”.
The workforce numbers in the private and public sectors are 29m and 6m respectively – given that a majority of the UK’s (less than) 7m trade union members are in the public sector the need to organise and strengthen the union base in the private sector is becoming critical – a point made by Professor Gregor Gall in his recent work on the 2009 Labour Force Survey:
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