Belfast Telegraph

Union leader warns of Brexit 'economic shock' for public services

More than 400,000 public sector jobs have been axed under the Government's austerity programme, and public services cannot withstand the "shock" of leaving the EU, a union leader has warned.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said low-paid women would bear the brunt of a Brexit fallout, just as they did after the banking crisis.

Speaking ahead of Unison's annual conference in Brighton next week, Mr Prentis said taxes would go up or public services such as the NHS would face even deeper cuts if the UK was outside the EU.

"Public services have already been cut by 40% because of austerity, with another 20% of cuts due in the next four years.

"Leaving the EU will spark an economic shock which will make things even worse for public services."

Mr Prentis said his union was already fighting cuts on many fronts, including campaigns to save libraries and to halt attacks on the pay and conditions of public sector workers.

"We are now seeing libraries being run by volunteers, moving to a system of using a switchcard to get into unstaffed buildings, or even stopping under 15-year-olds using them," he told the Press Association.

Unison is also stepping up campaigns to give decent pay and conditions to care workers, especially those who look after elderly people in their own homes.

Councils are being urged to sign an ethical charter, guaranteeing the living wage, access to training, and banning the use of controversial zero-hours contracts, as well as allowing care staff a decent amount of time to spend with elderly people.

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