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Date: Tue 18 Jan 2005

MEDIA INVITE - UNISON House, 14 West Campbell Street, Glasgow. 12.45 pm Tue 18 Jan 2005

Scotland's biggest union sets out Scottish election priorities

See the full manifesto at www.unison-scotland.org.uk/prioritiesforscotland

On Tuesday 18 January, Dave Prentis, UNISON's General Secretary will launch the union's General Election Manifesto for Scotland.

Speaking at a meeting of UNISON's Scottish Committee in Glasgow, Dave will stress that the union is seeking commitments on public services, equal pay and public service pensions and that prospective MPs will be faced with demands on these topics by trade union members. Media representatives are welcome to attend this launch.

Dave Prentis UNISON's General Secretary, said: " Just because there is a General Election, there is no reason for Scotland to import inappropriate English public service models that offer the illusion of choice. It is important that the Scottish public service ethos of co-operation and collaboration is continued and developed, to provide excellent, accountable and efficient services rather than wasting resources on competition and privatisation. In particular we should start providing real value for money and granting a level playing field between public and private finance. This would allow public authorities to stop wasting billions on PFI and PPP."

The manifesto recognises that many of the issues that will be faced in the forthcoming election are devolved to the Scottish Parliament , and concentrates on UK issues that impact on Scotland. In addition to public services, it covers the economy, public service pensions, fairness and equality at work, work-life balance, stronger communities, Europe and international affairs.

Dave Prentis said "Of particular concern are the attacks on public sector pensions. Public service workers give a lifetime of service, putting up with lower pay and conditions, and making substantial contributions. There is a pensions contract between them and the government. I have already written to all Labour MPs warning them that current proposals to increase minimum retirement ages, increase contributions and threaten the 'final salary' nature of the schemes are causing widespread anger and resentment. We have also written to MSPs as similar attacks are threatened on Scottish pension schemes. Trade union members across the public sector are banding together to defend pensions and this will be a major issue in the run up to the probable General Election."

Another key area that manifesto will concentrate on is the need to tackle unequal pay. UNISON is calling on government to lead the way and promote best practice in the public services.

"A new strategy is needed." said Dave, "One that addresses the evidence of inequality in the public sector, ensures that employers take their responsibilities seriously, and that government is aware of the need to resource the solution."


Note for Editors: Interviews with and photographs of Dave Prentis will be available. Please contact Chris Bartter, below.

For Further Information Please Contact: Mary Maguire, (Press Officer) 0207 338 6609(w) 07771 548 957(m) Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary): 0845 355 0845(w) 07771 548 997(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer): 07715 583 729(m)