UNISON Scotland is supporting the People's
People’s Assembly Scotland calls for ‘widespread social movement’ against council cuts
30 Nov 2015: The People’s Assembly Scotland is calling for a widespread campaign to back councillors who abandon ‘austerity denial’, urging them to show ‘political leadership’ in defending local services from Scottish and UK government cuts.
It has issued a pack for unions and community groups with a statement of principles, advice on street stalls and lobbying, and a model letter to councillors.
Phil McGarry, chair of the People’s Assembly Scotland, is calling on councillors to be honest about how cuts are damaging services: “We are calling for councillors to abandon austerity denial and be up front about cuts and the damage they are doing. They should publicly label cuts as ‘this service withdrawn due to austerity’
“We recognise that in order to take a stand, councillors will need broad based support and this initiative aims to build that at grassroots along with trade unions and other progressive bodies.”
In its ‘Local Government Budget Cuts 2016/17’ statement, the People’s Assembly calls on councillors to explore “all legitimate avenues” to mitigate, alleviate and oppose austerity cuts. These include measures like issuing bonds to raise funds more cheaply; refinancing PFI and other debts; campaigning for a debt amnesty for historic debt and using reserves.
Keith Stoddart, secretary of the People’s Assembly Scotland, added: “The current situation in local government is untenable. Local democracy has been systematically undermined through the council tax freeze, centralisation of policing and fire services, massive fettering of councils’ control over the school estate and centrally set teaching numbers.
“The current council tax freeze is unsustainable, and the council tax itself needs overhauled. We do believe that a property based tax is an important element of a progressive approach to council finance.”
The campaign does not rule out more radical action like unbalanced council budgets or raising the Council Tax but warns that this would be ‘counter-productive and damaging’ unless there is a widespread social movement working with councillors pursuing an anti cuts strategy in direct challenge to the Scottish and UK governments.
See the People's Assembly principles at http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/what_we_stand_for and the People's assembly Scotland blog at http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/scotland
The campaign pack can be downloaded for http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/peoplesassembly/PeoplesAssemblycouncilcampaign.pdf
The People's Assembly...
programme does not work; it is unjust, immoral
and undemocratic. Alternatives exist. Debts
can be dropped. Privatisation can be reversed
and common ownership embraced.
A living wage
can begin to combat poverty. Strong trade unions
can help redistribute profit. The vast wealth
held by corporations and the trillions held
by the super rich in tax havens can be tapped.
alternatives to the arms industries, a rebuilt
infrastructure including growth in manufacturing
are all desperately needed. We are fighting
for an alternative future for this generation
and for those that come after us."
1. is a broad united national campaign against austerity,
cuts and privatisation in our workplaces, community
and welfare services, based on general agreement with
the signatories’ Founding Statement.
2. is linked to no political party, committed to open
non-sectarian working and dedicated to supplementing,
rather than supplanting, trade union, student, pensioner
and community opposition to austerity measures.
3. is based on affiliation by individual supporters,
unions nationally and locally, anti-cuts campaigns,
and other student, pensioner, unemployed, disabled people’s,
women’s, Black people’s, youth and LGBT
4. aspires to support, encourage, coordinate joint
action, and facilitate a transfer of experience rather
than to command.
5. encourages the establishment of new local campaigns
and/or People’s Assemblies.
6. organises newsletters, a website, twitter, Facebook
and social media, meetings, conferences, lobbies, rallies,
marches, demonstrations and other events.
7. vehemently opposes all proposals to “solve”
the crisis by discrimination or scapegoating on grounds
of disability, race, religion, ethnic origin, nationality,
gender, age, sexual orientation or identity.
8. liaises closely with similar movements in other
countries resisting austerity measures.
9. encourages a wide debate on how to protect the welfare
state and develop an alternative programme for economic
and social recovery.