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Letter: Mailbag: Don't the strikers realise that we seem to be nearing a recession?

I WRITE with reference to the impending strike action by local government employees, including at Kirklees Council.

Your readers may be aware that the action is being taken in response to central Government's offer of a 2.45% pay increase for the financial year 2008/09.

The dominant union in Kirklees is Unison and, having balloted its members, it is they, together with Unite, who have brought about this action. The more moderate union, the GMB, conducted a similar ballot and most of their members chose to accept the offer and are therefore not in support of the strike.

Frankly, I believe the decision to strike is shameful and demonstrates no insight into the fact that modest pay increases have a positive impact on inflation. Nor does it show any awareness of what's happening in the wider economy.

I refer specifically to the fact that the country appears to be on the verge of entering into a recession and already the three main players in the speculative housing market - Persimmon, Taylor Woodrow and Barratt - are making significant numbers of redundancies. The construction industry is traditionally the barometer of the health of an economy and history tells us that we can expect the effect of the downturn in activity to be apparent across other sectors of the economy very quickly.

In other words, this is hardly the time to be demanding more when employees from the private sector face the vagaries of market conditions and the prospect of job losses. Also, pay rises are a luxury that many commercial enterprises simply cannot afford at present.

Many private sector employees, me included, have experienced the misery of redundancy and it saddens me that Kirklees employees fail to recognise what a privileged position they're in. After all they effectively work for a monopoly operating in recession-proof industries!

The old fallback about there being lack of parity between public and private sector pay simply won't wash any more. There is no disparity; arguably the reverse applies when pensions, job security, sick pay and flexi time are factored in. I'm appalled by the intended strike action this week and I sincerely hope that any disruption to services is kept to a minimum, particularly for those vulnerable people whose wellbeing depends on council employees.

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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Jul 15, 2008
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