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Tory MPs, Fleet Street and TaxPayers' Alliance launch pre-emptive strike on trade unions ahead of "summer of discontent"

By Tim Montgomerie
Follow Tim on Twitter.

Screen shot 2011-06-28 at 07.26.31 The Government may be cautious about direct attacks on the trade unions but this morning's newspapers give a sense of the coming confrontation between the powerful public sector unions and the people who depend upon public services. Both The Sun - under the headline 'Stop The Summer Of Hate' - and Mail give prominent attention to new research from The TaxPayers' Alliance which finds that 37 of the working class heroes who lead trade unions take home more than £100,000 in pay.

The Mail reveals that union leaders are holding secret talks with the protest movement UK Uncut at the TUC headquarters. Conservative MP Priti Patel condemned the talks which will also include the Coalition of Resistance (a group which celebrated the occupation of Tory HQ during the tuition fees protest):

"This is a very unwelcome and dangerously irresponsible move by the TUC. I fear this is the start of a concerted attempt to stage mass civil disobedience. It could end in riots."

In The Telegraph Dominic Raab MP rehearses some of the key arguments that are likely to dominate the summer of discontent:
  • Taxpayers currently spend millions of pounds on trade union organisers who fight for their members to extract ever greater privileges from the taxpayer;
  • Thursday's strikes are taking place with only small minorities having voted for action. 59% of voters think strike action should only be legal if a majority of union members have voted for it.
  • "The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates that pay and pensions in the public sector leave the average worker 12% better off than his peers in the private sector." Policy Exchange research suggests that the public sector premium could be much higher.
  • Only 3% of public sector workers realise that they'll still be better off than their private sector counterparts AFTER the Coalition's proposed reforms are implemented. That 3% figure is an indictment of government communications.

I would add a fifth point - namely that the UK cuts are not out-of-the-ordinary. The FactCheck website has confirmed that George Osborne is making cuts that aren't very different from the European average.

Over on Comment Martin Parsons explains why he will not be joining other members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers in their strike action on Thursday. He focuses on the unsustainability of current pension arrangements:

"What is clear though is that life expectancy in the UK is steadily increasing – currently at a rate of one additional year’s life expectancy every three years. With nearly half a million people drawing pensions from the teachers' pension scheme averaging (according to ATL) £12,000 p.a. that means that the scheme must be paying out an additional £6 billion every three years. That extra £6 billion every three years either has to come from teachers paying higher pension contributions (the Government’s proposal) or the taxpayer – which seems particularly unfair on taxpayers who work in the private sector."

Read Martin's full column.

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