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Tues 20 April 2004

Public services central to economic success

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary, today said that Scotland's public services were key to the country's economic success, and that public service workers needed to be paid properly to deliver the service people need.

Moving a composite motion at the STUC Congress today, Matt said "Public services are not what comes at the end of the economic cycle - some drain on the country's progress. They are the life blood of our economic base. They purchase, they create infrastrructure, they educate, they regulate, they provide health and care, they innovate, they create employment, they ensure the quality of life and build standrads for others."

UNISON also sounded a warning that pay in public services would have to rise, if the Scottish Government wanted to improve their delivery.

"We are already seeing the results of shortage in key skills." Matt said

"In social work, nursing and other health care professions, professional pay must be part of the package to recruit and retain staff. We must also ensure we are not exploiting those who deliver our services in low pay areas like care staff and nursery nurses."

UNISON and the STUC will also continue the campaign against PFI/PPP. Matt said "This method of funding mortgages Scotland's future, and wastes money by demanding huge projects to enhance profitability. It also means that privateers' profits are guaranteed - even if there are cuts in public funding."

Matt also warned that any attempt to privatise Scottish Water would meet a massive campaign of resistance. "Already there is a softening up process underway." He said "Let me make it quite clear that Scottish Water is not for sale."

However Matt welcomed the Government's recent announcement of the Public Service Forum, and pledged that UNISON would work with this to develop new ideas and to raise concerns about Scotland's public services. "It does not mean we shall agree with every item, and we shall hold true to the values we have outlined. But it will allow dialogue and a platform to take proposals to a wider audience.

"Public services were at the forefront of the campaign for a Scottish Parliament. They define the nature of the new Scotland we set out to build. And if people don't think distinctly Scottish decsions are being taken in Scotland then look at the vote on Foundation Hospitals. Scottish MPs who voted to impose them in England were wrong, and there could be no clearer reason to have a Scottish Parliament than to secure commitment to public service provision."


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






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