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UNISON Launch Campaign
A union has launched a campaign against North Lanarkshire Council proposals to axe up to 1100 jobs as part of £45m savings in the next two years.
Now UNSION have stepped up action against cuts to jobs and services announced by the council. They have held meetings in Coatbridge, Cumbernauld and a Wishaw Campaign Committee meeting took place in Wishaw Library.
Area Campaign Teams have been formed in Airdrie, Bellshill, Coatbridge, Cumbernauld, Motherwell and Wishaw , to co-ordinate activities in their area with the support of the campaign committee and the branch office. Street stalls will be set up in every principal town to inform of the impact these cuts will have on communities. Area teams will have the autonomy to organise events and protests, attend meetings with community organisations, and protest at councillors’ surgeries. A protest took place at the GLO Centre in Motherwell when MSPs from the Scottish Nationalist Party held a public meeting.
Alan Love, North Lanarkshire UNISON chairman said: “Our emblem for the campaign will be a black ribbon which symbolises the “the death of public services.”
Following the announcement of austerity cuts, a delegation of UNISON members had a constructive meeting with council leader Jim McCabe and Councillor Tom Curley. A delegation also met with members of the SNP.
Mr Love continued: “This meeting was disappointing as the SNP group were still considering whether or not they would present their own response to the budget.
“They gave no indication of what they would do other than say there would be no compulsory redundancies. Despite the issue of the privatisation being raised on several occasions, their failure to say they would not do so, would suggest that they too would consider privatisation. While the issue of the council tax freeze was raised and the impact this had on providing frontline services, they intimated they would not seek to change their present position without an agreement at national level.”
Councillor David Stocks, SNP Group Leader, said they are “shocked and surprised” at UNISON comments.
“It was made quite clear to the UNISON reps that we now had a Budget Group, and we were looking into alternative savings which did not mean compulsory redundancies, or a big cut in public services, which will happen if the cuts are accepted,” he added.
“Since then, on November 10, I have responded to a letter from Alan Love from UNISON saying quite clearly we are also against the privatisation of public services.”
Councillor Stocks continued that UNISON met with the SNP group on October 30, a full three and a half months before the council budget was announced.
He went on: “Scotland’s normal annual budgetary timetable is delayed this year because of the UK Government’s spending review due on November 25. This has held up decisions on the Scottish Government’s own Draft budget. It would be foolish for the SNP to decide on North Lanarkshire finances while we await two budgets - George Osborne’s final cuts and John Swinney’s draft budget. It will be mid-January before we know Holyrood’s funding allocations to local government. As far as the council tax freeze is concerned, I stand by what I said that this freeze is popular. Not so long ago, an independent body in Holyrood, said the freeze had been over-funded. We all know it can’t go on forever and the SNP Government, in conjunction with COSLA, are looking into an alternative to the council tax.
“As far as our Budget is concerned, it is up to each opposition group if they wish to submit one or not, but we have done this over the last few years and I would expect that to happen. I am disappointed UNISON have chosen to do this, because we said we would expect to meet them again on more than one occasion before budget day and I still hope this will happen.”