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April/May 2007 No 66

Democracy Investment Fairness Excellence Partnership: You VALUE it so VOTE for it. Use your vote on 3 May

by Chris Bartter

As UNISON stepped up its campaign to put public services at the top of the election agenda, General Secretary Dave Prentis has called for the elections to focus on public services rather than a constitutional debate.

He told last week's Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) that recent opinion polls made it clear the people of Scotland had identified public services as the most important policy affecting their vote. Dave praised the increased investment in Scottish 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 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", he said.

"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 pointed out that we developed our current range of public services because of the inadequacies of others to deliver in the past. Dave also attacked as unacceptable the 'tax fiddle' that has lead to Glasgow City Council shifting its cultural and sports services to a private trust.

"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."

Dave called 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."

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