10,000 public sector jobs lost in Wales and counting

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

Dave Reid, Socialist Party Wales
Unison members in Wales protest against privatisation, photo Socialist Party Wales

Unison members in Wales protest against privatisation, photo Socialist Party Wales

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 the worst of the cutbacks have merely been delayed.

The Welsh government delayed the cuts until after the Assembly elections in May this year, but fully intend to make them bite now.

Already 1,000 jobs have been lost in the Welsh government. The NHS, education and councils are currently shedding jobs like leaves from the trees outside the Assembly offices.

The Con-Dem government claims that job losses in the public sector will be made up by job gains in the private sector.

There has been a small growth in the number of employees, although not enough to stop a sharp rise in unemployment.

But this is only because of a rise in part-time and temporary jobs. PwC estimates that over 50,000 jobs will go in Wales in the public and private sectors.

Health spending is 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. It pretends to stand in the tradition of the NHS’s socialist founder, Aneurin Bevan and plans the deepest NHS cuts in the UK.

The response of people in Wales to the cuts has already been angry. The Welsh Labour government has been able to shift the blame onto the shoulders of the Con-Dem government which controls the purse strings.

It has shrugged its shoulders and said “what can we do?” before cutting services to the bone.

Years of cuts

The WAO points out that spending on public services has never been cut for 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.

Revenue from the Welsh government to the councils will fall by £283 million by 2013, a 7% cut. Many council workers are being hit by a double whammy.

Staffing levels are being cut and the extra workload heaped on the remaining workforce – and a substantial number are having their pay frozen and even cut by ‘job evaluation’.

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 union facilities to try and prevent the unions from defending their members.

The WAO has exposed the fact that it would have been just as bad if Labour was in power in Westminster.

It 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 Con-Dems.

But while jobs are being massacred in Wales, young people are showing that a fightback is on the way.

A delegation from Youth Fight For Jobs is following up the 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 5 November.

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 30 November.