Bristol business chief says public sector strike will undermine recovery

Guy Kingston

Bristol FSB Chairman Guy Kingston

Public sector workers due to strike next Wednesday as part of the latest TUC day of action risk being branded ‘selfish and greedy’ according to Bristol Federation of Small Businesses chairman Guy Kingston.

More than two million public sector workers are set to strike on November 30 in what is predicted to be biggest day of industrial unrest since the Winter of Discontent back in 1979.

FSB chief Guy Kingston said public sector workers were biting the hand that feeds them.

He said: “It beggars belief that at a time where excessive government spending is tipping other countries over the brink that public sector workers in the UK, who have generally done very well out of the boom in public sector spending, think vital austerity measures needed to save the British economy should apply to everyone else but them.

“They don’t seem prepared to do their bit to help save the country from going the same way as Greece and Italy.

“As a result, they risk being branded selfish and greedy at a time when many small business owners are not even making the national minimum wage.”

Public sector workers across the country will join Wednesday’s strike action which is expected to hit hospitals, schools, law courts, government offices, job centres and a range of council services, as well as affecting international travel arrangements.

The day of action – organised by Unite – aims to force the Coalition Government to rethink plans to change the pension system for civil servants and local authority employees. The union says more than one in five people in the South West will be affected by the Government’s plans to overhaul pensions.

Guy Kingston said the whole campaign was self-defeating.

“Small businesses are trying to do something for the economy, propelling the growth we need to get us all out of the present mess excessive spending on the public sector has created.

“But strike action only serves to undermine our ability to make money, which will eventually go to the Exchequer in taxes necessary to finance salaries and pensions in the public sector. The strikers seem to think money grows on trees.”

Guy Kingston runs a business in Bristol advising companies on entering the Russian market.

He said: “Small businesses will lead us out of the downturn but any recovery is being undermined by action such as the day planned next Wednesday.

“The strike will impact small businesses on every level – from having to take a day off to look after children because their school has been shut down to seeing legal or local authority cases disrupted because a clerk hasn’t turned up to work.”

Guy Kingston had little sympathy with public sector workers’ claims their pensions were under attack.

“Even the reduced pensions on the table are still far more generous than pension packages in the private sector.

“We’re in a vicious circle as businesses are being taxed to pay public sector salaries and pensions while the public sector workers do their best to undermine our ability to earn the money to pay to keep them in a lifestyle few of us can afford ourselves. It is ultimately self-defeating to clobber the small businesses in Bristol which are doing their best to get the country moving again.”