Unions claim poorest hit 13 times worse by axe amid call for alliance

UNIONS are set to form an alliance to fight Government spending cuts which they claim will do irreparable damage to the economy and fuel a massive rise in unemployment.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said unions would be reaching out to the wider community to form a "progressive alliance" to make the case for an alternative to cuts.

"I don't think the public has woken up to the scale of the cuts, but when the reality begins to emerge after the spending review it will produce a very different reaction.

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"There will be a search for alternatives to the current strategy which we are convinced will do irreparable economic and social damage."

The TUC says the Government's "unfair" spending cuts will hit the poorest 13 times harder than rich people.

A study showed the bottom 10 per cent of earners will suffer reductions in services equivalent to 20 per cent of their household income.

In contrast, the richest 10 per cent will lose the equivalent of just 1.5 per cent from cuts being planned for the next few years.

A study by the GMB union showed that 150,000 jobs were lost or were due to be cut in over 150 public sector organisations across the UK, ranging from local authorities and hospitals to police authorities and the fire service.

Research by the Press Association showed that another 90,000 workers could lose their jobs because of moves by public sector organisations to cut spending, which is also having a knock-on effect in private firms supplying goods and services to the public sector.

Union leaders said the total of almost a quarter of a million jobs could easily be doubled as a result of next month's comprehensive spending review.

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB, said: "Current job losses already announced in the public sector of nearly 150,000 are just the tip of the iceberg heading for our services and our economy when the comprehensive spending review finally hits home next month. Unemployment and cuts in public services follow the appointment of a Tory-led government like night follows day."

The GMB has estimated that Sheffield City Council will have to lose over 1,000 posts to make savings of almost 220m.

The Police Federation warned on Friday that up to 60,000 police jobs, including up to 40,000 frontline officers, could be at risk if cuts go ahead.

Meanwhile the country's biggest union Unite warned that meals on wheels, free fruit at school and social care services for the elderly were "hanging by a thread" as councils faced the heftiest cuts in a generation.