Belfast Telegraph

26,000 Northern Ireland civil servants could face axe in cuts

By David Elliott

The Northern Ireland public sector workforce will be the hardest hit by the Government's spending cuts.

Analysis by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions Northern Ireland Committee estimated that 25,992 public sector employees will lose their jobs between now and 2017, a loss of 3.2% of the total working population, both private and public sector, of 804,000.

The next worst hit region is Wales with a 3% loss, followed by the north east of England at 2.9%. The likes of the south east and east of England will only see their workforce trimmed by 1.9% each.

"The draft Programme for Government (PfG) pledges to 'promote' 25,000 new jobs," ICTU Assistant General Secretary Peter Bunting said.

"This analysis proves the inadequacy of that modest ambition.

"Even if achieved, the PfG target will run a thousand jobs short of the expected cull in public sector jobs."

And he said the labour market could be hit harder if the economy continues to falter.

"There are serious consequences from these policies. Thousands more private sector jobs would go if our fragile economy were to see so much demand sucked out of the market.

"It is time for the Executive to take serious political action, aligning itself alongside other opponents of the wasteful and arrogant policies of the Tories and their Lib Dem collaborators.

"The Executive and Assembly must by now recognise the reality of the threat facing the living standards of every citizen of Northern Ireland, and start to counterattack."

Claire McKee, public sector specialist at executive recruitment company Clarendon Executive, said the detail of the PfG's pledges shouldn't be overlooked.

"There is a key difference between the PfG promotion of 25,000 jobs and the creation of new jobs, so while there will be a significant impact, local cuts to permanent headcount should be mitigated somewhat by 'natural wastage' (of people reaching retirement) and by the culmination of numbers of fixed-term contracts."

Across the UK, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) reckons 710,000 jobs are set to be culled from the public sector workforce.

The TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said the cuts themselves could impact the economy.

"Apart from the huge effect that the job cuts will have upon the provision of public services across the UK, mass redundancies across the public sector are bad news for our struggling economy," he said.

"They will have a devastating impact on high streets, as newly-unemployed public sector workers simply stop spending.

"The government needs to devote much more time and energy towards solving our growing jobs crisis."

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