Falkirk rally hears council tax freeze could lead to council service cuts
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Their rally took place at the start of a month-long national campaign being run by the Scottish Trades Union Congress.
The STUC wants an end to cuts to council services, the council tax axed and changes to the tax system to ensure the wealthy pay a fair share.
Falkirk Trades Union Council organised Saturday’s meeting and have other activities planned for during the month.
Speaking on Saturday were Councillor Euan Stainbank, deputy leader of Falkirk Council’s Labour Group; Lewis Clark, acting chair of the Fire Brigades Union’s east area; Gray Allan, former secretary of Falkirk Council’s branch of Unison and now secretary of that union’s retired members section; and, Central Scotland MSP Richard Leonard.
Councillor Stainbank attacked the Scottish Government’s statements on the council tax, warning this will lead to more cuts to council services.
He said: “The New Deal for Local Government Humza Yousaf promised when elected First Minister went through the shredder at its first substantial test.
“What does this look like? Less capacity to deal with potholes and drains, staff shortages and ongoing pay disputes, the decline of enforcement action to stop fly tipping, reduced resources to support children and give them a diverse and effective education, proposals coming forward to close more and more council buildings until there is nothing left for communities to call home.
“We cannot go on playing Budget Jenga year after year, searching for the essential service we think is just a little less essential than the others and hope it won’t lead to our communities collapsing.”
There was strong support for firefighter Lewis Clark as he outlined the reasons behind the FBU’s current dispute, warning that lives were being put at risk by cuts to services and equipment, highlighting the extra time taken by fire crews in a number of recent call-outs to make it to the scene of fires.
Gray Allan attacked the Scottish Government for centralising policies, controlling budgets by ring-fencing huge amounts of the money given to local authorities
And MSP Richard Leonard said it was clear Scotland, and its people, deserved better. He said it was good to see trade union members fighting back against the way workers were being treated.
He said the latest evidence of this was the dispute at Scottish Water where members of the GMB, Unite and Unison were taking action on wages.
He said: “A nationalised industry, under the control of the SNP government, where bosses feel enabled to pick up huge bonuses at the same time as workers have to go on strike for a reasonable pay rise.
“These dispute are not random, an entire class is on the march.”
Mr Leonard highlighted steps being promoted as possible features of the Westminster government’s Autumn Statement.
“It’s cuts to Inheritance Tax and to Corporation Tax alongside cuts to welfare benefits. Two weeks ago they lifted the caps on bankers’ bonuses, It’s a case of the rich giving to the already rich at the expense of the rest of us.”