Friday, 21 June 2013

A better and fairer way than austerity

#undc13 Gordon McKay, NEC Scotland representative, vowed that UNISON would argue and campaign for an alternative to austerity - for a better way, that will put this country first by promoting jobs, public services and growth.
  Gordon said, "We need an end to job cuts and the dogma driven pay cap in the public sector. Giving people work and paying a fair wage will promote spending and growth. We should raise the income of the lowest paid because not only is it the right thing to do, but it is the sensible thing to do when we need to encourage spending."

"We should end the Tory bedroom tax and reverse cuts in child benefit and working tax credits. We need to start a council house building programme and build public services to be proud of."

Whilst promising that UNISON would campaign to ensure that this is a one-term Tory Government, Gordon warned Ed Balls, "If you think sticking to Tory spending plans and cutting public services but just a bit slower, and not quite so deep is the way forward, do not expect this union to stand by and watch while our members and families are put on the dole queue, and sent to the food bank or pay day loan sharks. We expect better from our Labour Party, we demand better from our Labour Party."

"There is an alternative to austerity, it is a programme of fairness, decency and justice. It is what this union is built on."

Jane Carolan stressed that UNISON’s response needed to be practical, credible and deliverable and this motion provided that strategy.

Margo Cranmer, Lanarkshire Health, gave an insight into her own personal experience of the austerity cuts, working as a nurse for over 35 years: " When I started nursing, roles were clear. While we all had responsibility for patient care, there were enough of my colleagues to ensure that we would take our breaks, knowing that there were enough staff to provide safe care to patients."

"As the pressure to reduce costs increases, the temptation to downgrade posts increases. Not only is this exploitation of our members, it puts patients and our members at risk."

"As one of my colleagues summed it up we used to provide a Rolls Royce service for our patients, now it's a clapped out banger. That's the reality of austerity."

Gordon drew a stark contrast between the massive pay off for the Royal Bank of Scotland's Hester, whilst public sector workers delivering life line services will have had a 20% pay cut in real terms by 2016.

He said, "The Tories want public service workers to pay for the greed of international financiers. We have paid for it in our wages, we have paid for it with our jobs and we have paid for it with our services. Social services handed over to those who put profit not only before high standards but even before basic standards of humanity and our NHS privatised and run by profiteers like Virgin as they suck money out of the public purse."

Gordon explained that the Tories do have an alternative to austerity for their big business friends - at the recent Barclay's Bank AGM according to the remuneration report, there were 425 staff earning over £1m, whilst 40,000 job losses were announced. The list goes on.

"On the day the Tories implemented their top rate tax cut that gave 13,000 millionaires an average £112,000 a year extra, the head of Barclay's Bank Investment branch, Rich Ricci gets an £18m, bonus by cashing in his free shares."

Then there are the tax avoiders, explained Gordon - in six years Google have received £11.5bn of revenue and paid less than 0.1% in tax.

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