10,000 public sector jobs lost in Wales and counting…

Welsh youth to join the Jarrow March For Jobs

Over 10,000 public sector jobs have been lost in Wales in the last year according to accountants PwC. And it will get a whole lot worse according to the Wales Audit Office (WAO) who expects 21,000 jobs to be lost by 2015. So far the cutbacks have been less severe in Wales than the rest of the UK, but that has merely delayed the worst of the cutbacks.

The Welsh government delayed the cuts until after the Assembly elections in May this year, but fully intend to make them bite this year and the next two years. Already 1,000 jobs have been lost in the Welsh government itself. The NHS, education and councils are currently shedding jobs like leaves from the trees outside the Assembly offices in Cathays Park.

The ConDem government’s claim that job losses in the public sector will be made up by job gains in the private sector are confounded when you look at the small print of the employment figures. There has been a small growth in the number of employees (although not enough to stop a sharp rise in unemployment) but only by a rise in part time and temporary jobs. So permanent employment has been replaced by underemployment and short term employment.

And public sector cuts will lead to workers’ jobs being lost in the private sector as well. PwC estimates that over 50,000 jobs will be lost in Wales in the public and private sectors as a result of the cuts.

The loss of jobs in the public sector is also putting enormous strain on the remaining workforce. In the NHS (where a colossal £570 million is being cut in Wales) workers are reporting that they are having to cover for the unfilled vacancies as workers leaving are not replaced.

The response of people in Wales to the cuts has already been angry but they have only just begun to bite. Thus far the Welsh Labour government has been able to shift the blame onto the shoulders of the ConDem government in Westminster who control the purse strings and cut the funding for public services in Wales. The Welsh government has shrugged its shoulders and said "What can we do?" before cutting services to the bone. But that can only last so long before the cuts become intolerable.

Marching against Labour cuts

The Wales Audit Office points out that the cuts will be absolutely unprecedented. Spending on public services has never been cut more than two consecutive years. It will now be cut in real terms for five consecutive years. Real term funding will be cut by a massive 12.4% over that period.

The NHS in Wales will really suffer with health spending due to be cut by 6.2% in three years in real terms. At the moment health spending per head is slightly higher in Wales than the UK average. However compared to other areas with similar socio-economic characteristics like the North East of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland it is the lowest. The Welsh government proposes to cut it even further so that it falls even below the UK average.

The Welsh Labour government that pretends to stand in the tradition of the NHS's socialist founder, Aneurin Bevan, is attempting to force health spending to the lowest in the UK.

Revenue from the Welsh government to the councils will fall by £283 million by 2013 (a 7% cut). So basic council services will be cut and thousands of council jobs will go. Many council workers are being hit by a double whammy in Wales. As well as the cutting back of staffing levels and the extra workload heaped on the remaining workforce a substantial number are having their pay frozen and even cut by the job evaluation process taking place in Welsh councils.

In Rhondda Cynon Taff and Neath Port Talbot councils the workers have been hit with a triple whammy as these Labour-run councils have threatened their workers with wage cuts or get the sack. Some councils are attacking union organisation withdrawing facility time or other union facilities to try and prevent the unions from defending their members.

Youth Fight For Jobs on the march

And according to the Wales Audit Office things would have been just as bad if Labour was in power in Westminster. Last year the WAO had calculated £1.5 billion cuts to the year 2013-14 based on the estimates of the outgoing Brown government’s planned cuts. The actual figure was virtually the same at £1.6 billion. In other words Labour’s cut to Welsh funding would have been as bad as the ConDems.

But while jobs are being massacred in Wales the youth are showing that a fightback is on the way. Next week a delegation from Youth Fight For Jobs are following up their hugely successful Merthyr to Cardiff march by joining the Youth Fight For Jobs Jarrow march to London. A dozen Youth Fight For Jobs activists from Wales will join the march as it moves towards its arrival in London on November 5th.

This will bring home the burning issue of youth unemployment, running at over 30% in Wales. It will up the ante as we prepare for the one day public sector strike planned for November 30th.

Dave Reid

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