Strikes could cost £500m

Julian Harris
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NEXT week’s sweeping public sector strikes could cost the economy up to £500m, the Treasury claimed yesterday, although the figure was swiftly branded “fantasy economics” by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

The Treasury said that if two to three million union members join next Wednesday’s industrial action, the hit to public sector output and additional knock on effects on the private sector would total half a billion.

The claim was described as a “reasonably worst case scenario” by Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander. “That is a loss we can ill afford at what is a very difficult time for our economy overall.”

In a more optimistic estimate of fewer union members striking, the Treasury told City A.M. that the cost could come to around £280m. The TUC’s Brendan Barber rubbished the government’s claims.