Cuts to Britain's public sector are bound to trigger strikes, the nation's biggest civil service union said on Monday, warning the government against taking harsh spending reductions.
The new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition is planning spending cuts of around 25 percent across government departments to cut a deficit running close to 11 percent of national output.
Britain's independent fiscal policy watchdog says that could lead to about 600,000 job losses in the public sector over the next five years and pensions, pay and benefits are also likely to come under the knife.
"We have a crisis that was caused by financial markets yet it seems that hard-pressed public servants are being the ones asked to pay the price and that can't be right," Public and Commercial Services union leader Mark Serwotka told BBC radio.
"If we get a tax on pensions and jobs and pay, I think that the inevitability of industrial action stares us in the face."
The PCS, Britain's fifth largest union and home to more than 300,000 workers ranging from coast guards to court staff, ranks among the most militant of British unions who have had a frosty relationship with past Conservative governments.
Many unionists have not forgotten restrictions imposed on them after 1979 by former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Workers concerned that, after 13 years of Labour rule, rights and conditions -- particularly in the public sector -- will be further eroded under the centre-right-led coalition.
The Times newspaper reported on Monday that government ministers had held confidential talks over changing union strike laws to stave off the risk of widespread industrial action which could erupt as a result of spending cuts.
Redundancy terms for 500,000 civil servants could also be restricted to reduce the costs of laying off staff, newspapers said.
"People need to understand that there is no democratic legitimacy for cuts on this scale," Serwotka said.
"There is no argument for any cuts in public services at all at the moment ... It would be a massive backward step that will throw up to a million extra people on to the dole (jobless benefits) queue."
The coalition has defended plans to consider even deeper public spending cuts than expected after opponents warned that they could trigger a second recession.
ReutersGüncelleme Tarihi: 05 Temmuz 2010, 15:05