Austerity pushing UK economy towards a Greek-style crisis

Unite the Union LogoAn economic spectre is haunting Britain and the path to austerity will propel it into an economic crisis on a par with Spain and Greece, warned Tony Burke, assistant general secretary of Britain’s largest union Unite.

Addressing trade unionists on from across Europe at a major EU conference, on Thursday, May 3, 2012,  on the economy in Manchester, Tony Burke said: “Europe is the spectre now haunting Britain. A deep crisis has gripped the eurozone and is affecting the UK. Britain’s Con-Dem government has made a mess of managing the economy. We are already in a double dip recession, and David Cameron has us sitting on the subs bench of Europe rather than being on the pitch.

“In Greece, real wages have fallen by over 25 per cent and in Spain, where the debt crisis has taken hold, you have nearly one in four out of work and over 50 per cent of young are without a job.

“These are the depths of the crisis that austerity has brought - that have yet to reach Britain. But that is only because many of the countries of Europe are further down the road which Cameron and Osborne are already taking us – the road of austerity and cuts, backed up by attacks on workers’ rights.”

Speaking at the conference: ‘Sorting out the crisis: What’s the EU got to do with it?’, in Manchester he went on to say that: “The damage and anger the austerity agenda is fuelling could even call into question the very future of the EU itself. What has happened to working people in the last few years is deeply shocking.

“Technocrats are dismantling workers rights, the social model is under attack, democracy itself is being sacrificed to the bankers, with elected governments – whatever one thinks of them – sacked in Italy and Greece.”

Calling for an alternative vision he urged a rejection of banker imposed austerity and for “faith to be put in people, not elites”. He went on to add: “State-owned banks should be investing and not hoarding cash. Manufacturing needs to be nurtured and the rich made to pay their fair share. The trade union movement needs to take the lead in Europe and fight back against the dismantling of social Europe."

Concluding he said: “We need to rebuild Europe based on its traditions of growth, on good jobs, on principles of solidarity and fairness and not the race to the bottom. Together, united, out of this crisis we can create a new Europe based on solidarity, equality and justice.”

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.

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