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27 Mar 2003

Media must make room for local elections - STUC

Matt Smith, STUC Treasurer and UNISON Scottish Secretary, today called for the media to provide more room for local and Scottish news.

Speaking to CoSLA's Annual Conference in St Andrews today (27/03) on behalf of the STUC, he expressed concern that the combination of simultaneous Scottish elections, and dominant media concentration on the war in Iraq threatened to squeeze out news of the local elections also taking place on 1 May.

"The media has a responsibility to make room for domestic and local political issues to be addressed and debated." Matt said. "Local government deserves better. Our democratic structures deserve better."

Matt also called for closer campaigning and work between trade unions and local government, pointing out that they shared many common aims like the funding, powers and future of local government.

"When did the STUC and CoSLA last sit down together to address areas of importance to each of them?" He said. "We could provide much support to one another, in campaigns like UNISON's Revitalise Public Services Campaign"

Finally, however, Matt predicted a period of uncertainty on the issue of pay in Scottish local government. The four year pay deal that settled the 2000 pay dispute is coming to an end, and in many public services staff shortages are threatening service delivery.

"We can only successfully resolve the issue of pay if we are aware of the pressures that have built up and where there are going to be problems of recruitment and retention in the future." Matt said.

And he pointed to the work of the Pay Commission in England and Wales and the McCrone Review of teachers pay as other factors that unions would be taking into consideration when discussing the next pay deal.


[Notes for Editors: Matt's full speech is available from Chris Bartter, numbers below.]

For Further Information Please Contact: Matt Smith (STUC Treasurer and UNISON Scottish Secretary 07771 548 997(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)