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Date: 16 April 2007

Public services will be key to election vote - Dave Prentis - UNISON

Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON - Scotland's largest public service union - today will call for the forthcoming election to focus on public services rather than a constitutional debate.

He pointed out that recent opinion polls had made clear that the people of Scotland had identified the delivery of public services as the most important policy affecting their vote.

Speaking on the first day of the STUC Congress in Glasgow Dave will praise the increased investment in Scottish public services and the rejection of the so-called choice agenda being followed disastrously down South.

"It is important that we refocus the election campaign away from issues of the constitution.” He will say, "And towards issues that really matter, and which recent BBC polls have told us are the most important issue for the Scots electorate - the provision of services on which individuals, families and communities depend, and how those are delivered.”

"The Scots electorate have, like UNISON, rejected the argument that it does not matter who delivers their services. Indeed it is rather like arguing that it does not matter who is elected on 3 May. It matters a great deal. Dave points out that we developed our current range of public services because of the inadequacies of others to deliver in the past. And he will attack as unacceptable the ‘tax fiddle' that has lead to Glasgow City Council shifting its cultural and sports services to a private trust.

Dave will say "I sometimes get confused about the difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion. I know one is illegal and one is immoral but what Glasgow is doing is unacceptable. That a public body funded through taxation should act in this way is appalling. The threat to services is real and the impact on jobs and on those who have devoted their careers to public provision is substantial.”

And he will call for public service workers to be fairly paid. "People deliver public services, and we need to recognise and reward the investment they make. Public sector pay policy must not be used as a means of underpaying those who deliver for all of us. That is why we welcomed the decision of the Scottish Health Minister to honour the Pay review Body settlement and not to betray the workers in the NHS - albeit that the original level of settlement was wholly inadequate. We reject the market in public services and reassert our belief in public provision by adequately rewarded public service workers.”


Note - Dave will be available for interview by contacting the numbers below

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