In one of the major debates of the Congress,
delegates slammed the failed economic
policies of the UK Government; their
failure to stimulate the economy and
to tackle tax evasion and avoidance;
their attacks on welfare provision, jobs,
pay and pensions; and their failure to
develop a credible growth strategy.
Speaker after speaker demolished the
incompetency of the government, the failure
of austerity and the poverty it was creating.
The General Council motion laid out
a wide ranging strategy for campaigning
against austerity and for a socially
just and progressive welfare and tax
system. Delegates also agreed to mobilise
for a one day strike in protest at the
cuts and to support trades union colleagues
UNISON’s Brenda Aitchison gave
a graphic example of the hypocrisy of
the Tory led government. "When multi-millionaire
Thatcher left her home in Chester Square..
to move into the Ritz, do you think her
advisers cared that the Ritz hadn't paid
any Corporation Tax in 17 years? All
"Tax avoidance alone costs us £30
billion or 6% of revenue, yet the ConDems
choose to target the poorest sections
of our society", added Brenda.
"Ian Duncan Smith thinks we need
to make work pay. However, he seems to
have forgotten that 60% of benefits go
to those who are working. In the 21st
century they are the working poor."
Brenda rounded on the arrogance of the
chancellor when he dismissed trade unions,
churches and campaign groups concerns
about welfare cuts and the Bedroom Tax
as 'ill informed rubbish’. “How
much wealth has been made for private
property investors on the back of income
received from housing benefit? You don't
see that in the Daily Mail."
"We know austerity isn't working.
We need the blueprint in this composite
to put things right. We need to continue
to unite with churches, charities and
communities to fight back" and this
included a co-ordinated industrial action
strategy, said Brenda.
To applause, Brenda concluded: "Choose
life. Choose a job. Choose to eradicate
tax evasion. Choose welfare state. Choose
NHS. Choose public services provided
publicly. Choose living wage and employment.
Choose affordable decent housing. Choose
education. Choose trade unionism. Choose
coordinated action. Choose a Better Way
and a Just Scotland!"
And speaking for Aberdeen Trades Union
Council, UNISON’s Morag Lawrence reminded
delegates that the STUC warnings on austerity
had all come true.
"Attacks on public service jobs, pay
and pensions has seen the economy slide
further into recession with little growth
and increased borrowing", said Morag.
The misery of unemployment continues.
Cutting jobs and services has made things
worse and putting more people on benefits
has meant a loss of tax receipts. The
STUC and UNISON had warned of all of
"And all the while the richest thousand
people in the UK have seen their wealth
increase by a massive £155 billion in
the last three years. Enough to pay off
the deficit with £30 billion left over",
added Morag. "And boardroom pay has increased
by 27% with an April Fools Day tax cut
the very wealthy."
"This is the problem", said Morag. "The
country is not broke. The money is just
in the wrong hands and that is getting
worse.. We need to keep up the work to
get that message across."
17 April 2013