by Amy Jackson
Yesterday brought the all-too-predictable news that Britain’s economy has shrunk for the second quarter in a row, and so entered a double-dip recession. With a failing economy, fresh allegations from the Leveson inquiry and a minister on the brink of resignation, Cameron endured one of his roughest PMQs to date. Ed Miliband capitalised on the government’s woes, demanding that Cameron did not offer another ‘excuse’ for the Coalition-imposed economic woes. With his usual stock response about who ‘got us in to this mess’, Cameron added, ‘We have got to rebalance our economy, we need a bigger private sector.’ But unfortunately for Cameron, the private sector is failing to come up with the goods. Unemployment still stands at 2.65 million, and news continues to flow of business more keen to cut staff than hire them.
The most recent set of redundancies have come from HSBC, the UK’s most profitable bank, who announced yesterday that they are to cut 2,000 jobs from mostly middle and senior management roles. HSBC clearly means business. They currently employ 50,000 people in Britain, and with these redundancies they are slashing 4% of its workforce. HSBC does not plan to stop here. Stuart Gulliver, CEO of HSBC, has made it clear he aims to shed 30,000 jobs worldwide by 2013 – 10 per cent of its workforce – saving £2.4billion a year. Obviously profits of £14 billion aren’t quite enough.
However, the union representing workers at HSBC, Unite, will not accept these job losses without a fight. The national officer for financial services, David Fleming, said: “Unite will oppose any job losses at HSBC and Unite is in dialogue with the bank regarding the speculation today. Bank staff deserve so much more than this awful treatment by HSBC or any other employer. How can this bank consider staff cuts when it was the workforce that delivered it a profit of £13.8 billion last year?
“The hypocrisy of CEO Stuart Gulliver taking home £8 million, while talking up job losses in order to save money, will not be lost on the workforce.
“Unite is outraged that bank workers, who throughout the financial services industry are serving customers daily, are having their jobs cut which will mean service will suffer.”
What will it take for Cameron and Osborne to realise that maybe they shouldn’t ‘stick to the plan’ and the private sector will not be the knight in shining armour they had hoped?