Monday 29 December: Budget is an ideologically driven attack on public services, workers and their communities across Northern Ireland.
Drastic reduction in public expenditure will mean green shoots of recovery suffer frostbite
Jimmy Kelly, Regional Secretary of Unite set out the union’s response to the NI Executive’s public consultation on the draft budget 2015-2016:
“This budget is more of the same old story, the rich get richer while the poor stay poor.
“The rationale for the budget is compliance with the austerity-driven economic agenda of the British Conservative party. The underlying goal is to make working people pay for an economic crisis caused by the growth of an unproductive and parasitical financial speculative sector which dominates British economic policy-making.
“They seek to use the weakness of the private sector in NI as a justification for an assault on public services – economic shock-therapy in the hope of rebalancing the economy.
“Instead, Unite believes government would take responsibility for growing the economy. Opportunities exist to expand public borrowing to leverage targeted investment into long-term growth potential sectors. There are also huge opportunities for public enterprise led investment – not least in the renewable energy sector.
“In addition to causing widespread misery, policies to cut front-line public services and public transport, slash places for students at universities and further education providers and even halt the gritting of roads and street-lighting will only further undermine our economy. Such budget savings are false economies.
“While there are some hopes that Northern Ireland’s economy might finally exit depression in 2015, we fear that the proposed drastic reduction in public expenditure will mean that the green shoots of recovery suffer frostbite and wither on the vine.
“As it stands, the draft budget is entirely unacceptable. There can be no justification for implementing austerity policies which threaten to undermine our economy as well as our public services and workers’ rights.
“Unite is committed to defeating this budget in partnership with the Trade Union movement and wider civil society. We seek to support affected communities and the vulnerable to stand up against this ideologically-driven assault”, concluded Mr Kelly.