Belfast Telegraph

Government ignoring plight of working-class people, say unions

Unions have condemned the Government for a "futile" attempt to hide policies they warned were making life much harder for most people.

Leaders said measures to be included in the Autumn Statement "spectacularly miss" the real issues facing workers.

The GMB said Theresa May's Government's first chance to show the country they are on the side of working people has instead seen their "mask slipping",

GMB general secretary Tim Roache said: "We have a new Prime Minister, but it's the same old Tory Party in Number 10, siding with vested interests and propping up the broken status quo. The Chancellor's warm words today will be cold comfort for struggling families.

"The Prime Minister promised dramatic change this summer, she claimed to be on the side of working people who are struggling to get by, ignoring the inconvenient truth that the reason people are struggling in the first place is due to years of failed Tory policies.

"In the most uncertain times since the Second World War, Philip Hammond is tinkering feebly around the edges when the country is crying out for bold, urgent and real change."

Manuel Cortes, leader of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, said: "Beware Tories bearing gifts for the working classes. Cracking down on insurance whiplash claims is a bizarre way of claiming he is subsidising commuter transport costs.

"Most commuters struggling to meet transport costs are public transport users not car drivers and so they are being completely ignored in today's statement.

"Hard-pressed ordinary working-class commuters have long needed a Chancellor with a plan to tackle rising transport poverty - that's where just under a quarter of net income is spent, on public transport getting yourself to work.

"If Mr Hammond was serious about easing the load of ordinary working-class people he could begin by tackling the ever escalating cost of commuting and head-off January's scheduled rail fare rises.

"But instead this Budget still leaves the UK's passengers facing the highest prices in Europe for the most overcrowded services and transport costs rising faster then wages."

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "A raise to the national minimum wage for over-25s will help some low-paid workers. But the Government must also take the opportunity to boost the pay of hard-pressed nurses, teachers, firefighters and home helps, who face 10 years of flatlining pay."