Explaining Public Sector Cuts

By on 02/10/2014
Public sectors are striking across Europe, despite differing austerity reactions by governments

With the global recession still causing severe budget constraints, public sectors are struggling to balance imposing austerity measures against providing satisfactory explanations to staff. This is a situation which is only going to become more difficult if Sir Bob Kerslake is correct.

Sir Bob has just stepped down as head of the UK civil service. His opinion is that public sector cuts will continue for another five years. Further, with UK national elections in 2015, he doesn’t see that outcome changing whichever party or parties get into power.

Speaking about the UK civil service, he said that reforms did need to continue but that a great deal had already been delivered that the civil service should take great pride in.

Nevertheless, public sector strikes, including by civil servants, are being called in the UK as employees fear their incomes and employment packages are falling in real terms year on year.

In both France and Italy, public sector strikes are being called in spite of the fact that governments in both countries have rowed back on their austerity cuts. France has just announced that it will bring its borrowing back to within EU limits two years later than planned. French Finance Minister Michel Sapin blamed ‘very weak growth and very weak inflation.’

This announcement came a few hours after Italy claimed stipulations in European legislation gave it some room to manoeuvre due to ‘exceptional circumstances’. It too will delay bringing the budget back into structural balance until 2017.

Despite the apparent easing of austerity cuts, public sector strikes are continuing in France and Italy, not always peacefully. In an ongoing strike at an Electrolux factory in France, employees have threatened to blow up the plant. There is also growing anger that the French government is rowing back from major public sector cuts but is focusing on deregulating what were ring-fenced professions, like notaries and even taxi drivers.

Whether governments stick to austerity programmes or whether they loosen them, there are still more reforms coming to public sectors around the world. And Europe is showing that there is no painless way yet discovered to impose these changes.

About Graham Scott

Graham is an experienced editor and publisher and an award-winning writer. He has travelled extensively and is interested in world cultures.

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