Monday, 20 June 2011

We must win the biggest war on the welfare state we have ever faced

#uNDC11 Local government conference laid out a wide ranging and comprehensive strategy to fight cuts to public services and the welfare state.

Fighting through negotiation and bargaining; through campaigning with other trade unions and community groups; through the political education of our members; and ultimately through lawful industrial action to defend jobs, pensions, pay and terms and conditions.

Moving the composite for the Service Group Executive, Glen Williams told delegates how ordinary people are being made to pay for a financial mess caused by financial institutions and "exaggerated and distorted beyond belief" by the Tory led government and perpetuated by the majority of the media. He slammed their myths and lies.

"They say national debt is out of control - we say LIAR "They say cuts are inevitable and unnecessary - we say LIAR. "They say debt repayments are higher than ever - we say LIAR

"The say there is no alternative to the cuts - we say LIAR," said Glen, with delegates joining the refrain in unison.

'Politicians at all levels need to stand up and say no to cuts', Brian Smith
He paid tribute to every one of our members involved in this fight and called for our union to move forward and "win the biggest war on the welfare state we have ever faced."

However, he warned against calling for illegal budgets, because, "all the evidence shows it will be our members that suffer and more services will be cut and more of our members will end up losing their jobs," calling for "parallel budgets" to be set instead.

The composite motion involving 10 different branches and regions ran to six pages and 21 action points. "Carlsberg don't do composites, but if they did, this would definitely be theirs," quipped Glen.

Scottish input came from Aberdeenshire and Glasgow. Aberdeenshire’s Kate Ramsden, threw the spotlight on child poverty and the impact for our children of these cuts. She told conference that the UK already has one of the worst rates of child poverty in the industrialised world.

"It is a national disgrace that almost 4 million children across the UK live in poverty and 1.6 million live in severe poverty," said Kate.

"History shows that public service cuts impact disproportionately on our children and the Institute for Fiscal studies has shown that the current austerity measures are already hitting poorer families much harder.

"And all this at a time when bankers are raking in bonuses of £6 billion and when our low paid members are paying more in tax that the CEOs of big business," she slammed.

She called on branches to challenge cuts which will affect our children's quality of life and to call on employers to use Child Impact Assessments alongside Equality Impact Assessments.

"Conference, this is fast becoming a question of what kind of society we want to live in. One which ensures that no child has to grow up in poverty? Or one which protects the wealth and opportunity of the privileged few?"

Brian Smith of Glasgow Branch told conference that we need to build alliances with other organisations, community groups and the wider public based on a clear demand of "No Cuts."

He reminded delegates that we are both the providers and users of services and that jobs are services. "Making cuts is a political choice," said Brian. "Politicians at all levels need to stand up and say no to cuts. It is not good enough to say "a big boy did it and ran away!"

He called on conference to take up the fight and demand No Cuts.

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