TUC New Year Message

Linked with Trades Union Congress TUC – Britain at work, and with Brendan Barber – England.

Published on HRM Guide, by TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber, December 30, 2008.

“2009 has to mark a decisive turning point, away from the neo-liberal market-always-knows-best conventional wisdom that brought our economy to the brink of a catastrophic collapse, towards a fairer, more balanced economy delivering sustainable prosperity.

“This is going to be a grim year. Unemployment will increase every month. Some predict it will hit three million, but in truth no-one knows.

“First because we have little experience of a recession driven by a financial collapse, and secondly because we do not know how bold our Government – and as importantly, other governments meeting together as the G20 in April in London – will be.

“Government therefore has three priorities in the year ahead: it must take every action necessary to make the recession as short and as shallow as possible;it must develop the proper policy response to mass unemployment; it must use these and other policies not just to ensure that we do not repeat the mistakes that led to the financial collapse, but also to ensure that we emerge from recession as a fairer, greener and more sustainable economy.

Action to tackle the recession: …

… “This will require: a new kind of industrial strategy – not a return to picking winners and easy hand-outs, but strategic support to the sectors where we are already strong but could do better. Some will be in manufacturing, but others will be in services and parts of the economy often neglected in such discussions such as the creative sectors. A green industrial revolution that recognises that many industries will have to adapt to survive, but that also that the environmental challenge can generate thousands of productive worthwhile jobs, and build on the strength of our science base.An intensification of efforts to make society fairer – the recession should encourage the government to speed up efforts to eliminate child poverty. A fairer tax system. The government is right to increase borrowing to maintain the strength of the economy. But this borrowing and decent public services will have to be paid for, and 2009 must see a real debate on how to make the tax system fairer. There is a real demand for the super-rich to pay a fairer share. President Elect Obama has been a long-time supporter of a crack down on the tax havens used by multi-nationals and the mobile super-rich to avoid tax. A new kind of banking system that no longer threatens international economic stability and instead serves the rest of the economy and society. Britain’s banks already look very different. Some are now state-owned, some have large public stakes and all have received substantial help from the Bank of England and the taxpayer. At the very least we will need new regulatory structures to enforce stability but also to protect the consumer in a sector with less competition.

“2009 will not be easy year, but it could be the turning point that will make 2010 not just the start of recovery, but the first steps in building a new economy.” (full long text).

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