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Unions slam 'manageable cuts' study

Union leaders have attacked a new report which claimed that cutting 400,000 public sector jobs was "easily manageable".

Think-tank Reform claimed "visionary" public service leaders were already delivering improved services with fewer, better staff, including Merseyside Fire and Rescue service which has cut the number of firefighters from 1,500 to 900.

The high rate of staff turnover also made it easy to cut the number of employees, according to the report, called Reformers And Wreckers, which also accused public sector organisations of having an "out-of-date" employment culture, taking account of length of service rather than performance.

Andrew Haldenby, director of Reform, said: "The best public sector managers change the way they employ people to make their services better and cheaper. A smaller, high quality public sector workforce will mean better public services."

A spokesman for the TUC said: "A growth strategy based on surging unemployment and decimated public services will lead to a decade of stagnation."

Brian Strutton, national officer of the GMB, said: "To describe 400,000 public sector job losses as 'easily manageable' shows an inhumane and frankly disgusting attitude towards working people at a time when there are nearly one million young workers jobless. Reform again ignores the reality that it is not possible to deflate to growth and a balanced budget."

Fire Brigades Union leader Matt Wrack said: "It is dangerous and ignorant right-wing trash to suggest that more cuts to an already depleted fire service are manageable. We've been cut to the bone already and further frontline cuts will have a devastating impact."

Another report, by the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS), claimed the Government was being "out-manoeuvred" by the unions in the row over public sector pensions, adding that cutting the cost of the pensions by 25% would save the taxpayer billions of pounds every year.

Public sector workers' pay packages were 13% higher on average than those in private firms, said the report.

Tim Knox, director of the CPS, said: "The relatively lavish pensions enjoyed by many public sector workers are a burden which will largely be met by the private sector. Yes, reform of public sector pensions is tremendously difficult, but this must be ruthlessly pursued if we are to have a lasting and fair solution."

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