Workers and communities demand investment not cuts – Stormont must listen

Handsoff logoTrade unions opposed to race-to-the-bottom competition for tax haven status

Jimmy Kelly says fight to defend public services is ‘Fight of our Lifetimes’

March 13th: You cannot grow the economy by decimating public services.  That was the strong message sent today (Friday March 13th) by Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly when he addressed a rally of striking workers and members of the public at City Hall alongside leaders of other trade unions taking part in today’s one-day stoppage.

“The politicians in Stormont seem to think that by decimating spending on public services, they will grow the economy. The sight of our political elite prescribing austerity as the cure for a weak economy is reminiscent of medieval doctors prescribing blood-letting as a cure for the plague. It will only make things worse.

“You cannot grow the economy through decimating public services. Such policies will freeze-dry the very feeble green shoots of economic recovery. In case those up on the hill haven’t noticed, Northern Ireland has just lapsed back into recession after a brief few months of growth coming after five years of depression! This is no recovery for ordinary workers”, Jimmy Kelly pointed out.

“Unemployment has fallen but so have wages.  Meanwhile more and more people have been forced into zero hours contracts, minimum wage, part-time and temporary work.

“Austerity will devastate Northern Ireland’s economy – an economy underpinned by public sector consumption. Austerity will only exacerbate sectarian divisions pitting one community against the other in a desperate contest for resources.

“We do not accept blaming the Tories is a justification for administering these cuts. Our local political leaders are joined at the hip in their demand for the power to slash corporation tax rates through decimating funding for public services by – at the very least – a further £325 million a year.

“All the Stormont parties are agreed on devastating cuts to public services to fund a race-to-the-bottom with places like the British Virgin Islands for global tax haven status.

“But there is an alternative, instead of cutting funding for schools and universities, public transport and our vital infrastructure as well as vital health and social services – we should be investing in them. Investment means growth. World-class industries need an educated, skilled workforce, they need modern, efficient electricity and water infrastructure systems, they need a world-class, integrated public transport system; they need workers enjoying the fruits of growth and the very best public services.

“That’s why – despite what right-wing pundits or politicians say – protecting our public services is in the interests of all workers – public and private! That’s why Unite private sector workers are today showing their support for this day of action.

“We know we will not win this fight in one day. We need to make sure that more and more workers understand what is at stake. Four more years of brutal austerity will leave precious little of our vital public services.

“We demand a better way! Investment not austerity, growth not the race-to-the-bottom, people power not the power of the corporate elite”, Mr Kelly concluded.

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