UNISON will co-ordinate a UK wide campaign to save local government services from the brink of breaking point. UNISON is calling on all its members to stand up for local government.
A national campaign will back up and strengthen local campaigning to save our services. It will help take the argument for proper funding for quality public service to our local, Scottish, and Westminster politicians.
At the same time, it will help to educate the public about the full range of services that local government provides including those for the most vulnerable people in our communities.
Inez Kirk, moving the Aberdeenshire motion, said: “Local government was under constant criticism during a period of extremely cold and stormy weather at the beginning of the year.
“A storm that coincided with the announcement of an increase in Council Tax.
“Workers struggled through in the most severe weather to clear roads, and protect the vulnerable, whilst being criticised in social media for doing nothing. Staff risking their own lives to protect the lives of others!.”
Inez pointed to a UNISON survey of members in Scotland only published on Monday this week, that illustrated that cuts to local government budgets have left councils unable to meet the needs of local communities and 75% of council workers have no confidence in the future of local services.
On the state of local services and the public perception, Inez said: “Vital services have been cut leaving the vulnerable unable to receive the services they desperately need.
“The public are largely dissatisfied as they see road maintenance, paths and bridges left unrepaired. Entire communities are now suffering, they are paying more, demanding more and getting less.
“Yet we don’t see campaigns about saving our services work. These are vital health and well-being services but no one recognises what we do.
“Yes we repair roads, collect bins, but we do so much more – we educate our young, we care for older people the vulnerable and frail.
“We protect from harm through environmental health, and child protection. The list goes on. Please remember we value every single thing that you do.”
Inez criticised the constant use of the euphemisms such as efficiencies instead of cuts – this just feeds the public perception that we are council workers paid well with gold plated pensions who do nothing for a living.
“We need to stand up and fight,” said Inez calling us all to action.
“No longer should we see our services sold off to the highest or, more often than not, to the lowest bidder. These services belong in the local authorities, in-house, loved and respected.
“Yes, we need to work to protect and recognise our workers in the private and voluntary sector but the need to be in-house, valued and recognised, treated like the valuable workers they are.
“We love local services, we love our local government. The public needs to value their local services, and we should lead the way.
“Let’s begin the fight!”