2011 will be a “horrible” year for British workers, warned Brendan Barber, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), a federation of UK trade unions.
In his New Years address, Barber specifically cited the coalition government’s austerity measures and spending cuts will result in huge job losses and a significant drop in living standards.
“Unemployment will increase as thousands of public servants get made redundant,” he said in the address.
“Just as many – if not more – private sector jobs will go, both as a direct result of the cuts and through the knock-on effects of reduced economic activity. Benefit cuts will kick in, and thousands of the poorest and most vulnerable people will see real cuts in their living standards.
A demonstration scheduled for March in London, Barber noted, will likely be one of the biggest public events the union has ever organized.
This coming year is going to be pretty grim for many, many people as the cuts really begin to impact on communities, hitting families right across the country, Barber told the BBC.
Another top union boss, Mark Serwotka of the Public and Commercial Services Union, warned of the inevitability of strikes.
The more of us that stand together against the cuts, the more problems we can create,” he told the Times. “Unless you look like you want a fight, they won't negotiate.”
A primary target of the unions’ anger, Prime Minister David Cameron, has also warned of how difficult 2011 will be.
We have been living seriously beyond our means,” he said.
“We have to sort this out. Every sensible person knows this. 2011 is going to be a difficult year, as we take hard but necessary steps to sort things out. But the actions we're taking are essential, because they're putting our economy and our country on the right path.”
The coalition government plans to cut public spending by more than 80-billion pounds sterling, which will lead to hundreds of thousands of job losses in the public sector.