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Scotland: SNP do the Con-Dems' dirty work
The Scottish National Party (SNP)-led Scottish government announced a range of savage cuts in their recent spending review statement. Finance secretary John Swinney, confirmed the government's intention to implement £3.5 billion in spending cuts up to 2015.
For public sector workers who are facing the brunt of the attacks, it's a declaration of war against their pay, pensions and jobs. Unison has pointed out that a total of 31,000 public sector jobs in Scotland will have been axed over last year and 2011/12. The rate of job losses in the public sector will now accelerate as the impact of the cuts hit home.
On top of this 500,000 workers in Scotland now face a wage freeze at least until April 2013. Local government workers had already seen a three-year pay freeze imposed on them by CoSLA (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities). Even the token £250 wage increase for those earning under £21,000 - and many employers will not implement it - is a wage cut after inflation.
If the SNP think their spending plans will help "grow the Scottish economy" as they claim, they are deluded. You cannot impose public sector job cuts and reductions in living standards on this scale without driving the economy into the ditch.
The SNP's spending review also saw major cuts in local government funding, affordable housing (50% cut) and further education (15%). Even the NHS, which is supposed to be ring-fenced, will see real cuts of up to £400 million by 2015. Inflationary costs and the impact of private finance in the health service will mean further job cuts among NHS staff.
Scandalously, the SNP have allowed the imposition of sky-high tuition fees on students studying in Scotland from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
An indication of the impact of the slashing of budgets was graphically shown when Glasgow city council announced a further £13 million in cuts for the city. It now means a £61 million cuts package for this year. Local councils across Scotland will also seek to accelerate cuts in the wake of the SNP's review.
The trade union movement must respond and quickly. The decision of Unison to continue with a ballot over pensions among its Scottish local government membership for 30 November is welcome. The Unison Scottish secretary's statement that the strike was off has now been removed from the Unison Scotland website.
With many unions balloting in October it is vital that meetings are organised in every workplace to urge a massive vote in favour of action. The unions must build for a mass Scottish TUC demonstration on 1 October in Glasgow (assemble 11.30am in Glasgow Green) as a step to a mass strike on 30 November.
This is not only a fight to defend pensions. For millions of workers it will be seen as a chance to have their say on the brutal austerity being meted out by the rich and the millionaire politicians.
Full article see www.socialistpartyscotland.org.uk