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Local Government

Dear GMB Member,
It’s Time to End Scotland’s Austerity Shame
Austerity has failed Scotland. It’s made our public servants poorer and cost us tens of thousands of decent jobs. It’s pushing our NHS to the brink, harming our kids’ education and decimating our crucial local services. GMB Scotland says, ‘Enough is enough’.
That’s the message I delivered to Derek Mackay MSP, the Scottish Government’s Finance Secretary, when I met him last week to discuss the prospects for the Scottish Budget that will be set later this year.
There’s no point in not telling it like it is. Scotland’s austerity shame is evidenced in our dirty streets, pot-holed roads and pit-stop home care. I wanted the Finance Secretary to be left in no doubt about how austerity has affected GMB members in local government.
Ten years of job cuts, a rising cost of living and people working longer for less is not sustainable. Warm words from our political elite are useless. We’ve heard them over and over again. We need action and that means giving GMB members the proper recognition and reward for their service.
This year, GMB led the drive for the first decent pay increase for local government workers in a decade. We have to build on that. It can’t be a return to ‘austerity as usual’. Work has to pay for our local government members.
There is no doubt Derek Mackay is going to have a problem balancing the Scottish Budget for the next year – but it’s a problem that Derek and his colleagues have largely created for themselves.
It is the Scottish Government that accelerated, not mitigated, Westminster austerity into the budget for local government year on year – an estimated £1.5 billion of cuts since 2011.
It is the Scottish Government who froze council tax for nine years, a political sop to the country’s middle class that eroded our tax base and starved essential funding for local public services.
Also it is the Scottish Government that continues to flip-flop over using the taxation powers our parliament has at its disposal which could make the wealthiest in Scotland contribute a little more for the greater good.
It’s not complex. It’s a political choice and these are the tough decisions that Derek Mackay and his colleagues are paid to take.
Our trade union has consistently called for an honest debate about the future of local government. The first step to fixing a problem is by admitting that there is one – and we have massive problems across our councils.
Derek Mackay needs to face up to this before it’s too late for Scotland. The imminent budget provides a perfect opportunity to start addressing the failures of the past and the mounting problems of the present.
We will be campaigning hard in the coming weeks and months to defend your interests. We will be talking with you, visiting your workplaces and communities throughout Scotland. We will be in regular touch with updates about how you can get involved.
Enough is enough. It’s time to end Scotland’s austerity shame.
Yours sincerely,
Gary Smith
GMB Scotland Secretary

Posted: 7th August 2017

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