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From: The Socialist issue 889, 17 February 2016: Councils have a choice: no cuts to jobs or services

Search site for keywords: Scotland - Cuts - Council - Dundee - Glasgow - SNP - Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition - Socialist Party Scotland - Scottish National Party - EIS

Scotland: battle heats up against council cuts

Matt Dobson, Socialist Party Scotland

1 billion in council cuts over the next two years is the consequence of the funding deal from the Scottish National Party (SNP) government, which will mean the loss of 15,000 jobs and the decimation of services if implemented.

Both the SNP and Labour oppose Tory austerity in words but their councils have all signed up to this deal and look likely to be setting budgets to implement cuts over the next few weeks.

However, a fightback from workers and the trade unions is developing with Socialist Party Scotland activists playing a crucial role. In Glasgow and Dundee the local authority trade unions representing 26,000 workers are jointly campaigning for no-cuts budgets.

Union resistance

In Glasgow the Labour administration is seeking to implement 133 million of cuts. However they have already been checked by the resistance of the trade unions into stepping back from immediately implementing attacks on terms and conditions worth 3.5 million.

Reports of the attacks have immediately fuelled large attendances at workplace union meetings and the local press reported on the likelihood of industrial confrontation on a wide scale.

School janitors in Unison are already entering their fourth week of an industrial action boycott of duties in a "dirty, smelly, heavy, outdoor" payment dispute.

Glasgow Labour council is paying out 3,000 a day to hire non-union workers in an attempt to undermine the action. The #justice4jannies campaign is getting wide support, despite the worsening mess in schools, and the jannies are determined to fight on.

The resolute fighting mood and an understanding of the serious battle that is developing was shown by the impressive 350 strong turnout to the Glasgow City Unison AGM, the largest turnout for some years.

The branch, with its fighting record, its successful leadership of recent strikes like the homeless caseworkers and being the key reference point for anti-austerity struggle in the city, shows what can be achieved with a fighting socialist leadership.

In Dundee there is growing anger at the SNP implementing 23 million of Tory austerity. Several hundred braved a snow blizzard on 30 January, to march through the city demanding a no-cuts budget.

Jim McFarlane, Dundee City Unison branch secretary and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate for Dundee West in a recent statement said: "Savage cuts are planned for garden maintenance services, waste recycling, roads and street lighting as well as child and family services.

"Hundreds of jobs will be lost. The council workforce has already been reduced by around 1,300 jobs. We need politicians prepared to actually put the programme of anti-austerity into action."

Work to rule

Also the West Dunbartonshire teachers' action, reported in issue 884, continues. Teachers have organised a work-to-rule and are balloting over an offer from the council. Scottish teachers' union the EIS is campaigning to reject with another one-day strike set for 18 February.

We are organising a political electoral challenge as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in the Scottish Parliament election in May.

Protests at council budget setting meetings have been called by local authority trade unions in Dundee on 25 February at 2.30pm in City Square and in Glasgow on 10 March at 12.30pm in George Square.

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Article dated 17 February 2016

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