Marlyn Glen MSP

Speech in the Scottish Parliament

There is a Better Way

3 March 2011

I thank Elaine Smith for securing this debate and restate the welcome that she gave to the people in the gallery. I think that some of them might have missed it.

This very worthwhile debate, which has taken some time to get to the chamber, was originally initiated to link in with trade union week, an event of ever-growing importance in our calendar.

At this point, I should say that I really cannot agree with John Wilson’s general criticisms of unions.

During trade union week, I was impressed in particular with Mark Lynch from the STUC youth committee, who took part in one of the excellent meetings in which the STUC’s equality committees came together to promote equality in the workplace and to discuss the work on the issue that is being carried out throughout Scotland.

The unions into schools briefing was also excellent and gave hope to a new generation of trade unionists.

Of course, it also reminded us of worries for the future of young people in this economic climate.

Although I welcome the Government’s attempts to strive for no compulsory redundancies, I think that it has always been unclear how the terms of the concordat would support such an endeavour.

The aim might be laudable but, as we have seen this week, it is not particularly easy to achieve.

The Christie commission will present opportunities for examining how public services will be delivered in future but there will have to be a balanced and true partnership with trade unions if it is to deliver realistically.

Sadly, we are now beginning to realise and understand the effects of the UK Government’s cuts on people’s standard of living, particularly those on low-to-middle incomes.

The problem for people on low incomes is just that: they have low incomes.

Any rise in costs, whether through regressive VAT rises or increasing prices, means that they have to pay more with less money, particularly given the planned cuts in benefits.

For so many, the situation is impossible.

I agree with John Wilson on the disproportionate effect of budget cuts on women.

Given that more women work in the public sector and use public sector services, they suffer a double whammy when cuts are made.

It is therefore increasingly important that gender analysis is undertaken of key budget proposals. We need decisions to be published so that we can track and measure the outcomes.

The STUC’s There is a Better Way campaign involves workers, employers and community groups in campaigning to retain quality services.

The campaign points to a different way—a better way—in which public spending, the public sector and the public sector workforce are seen as neither at fault for the deficit nor the target for its reduction.

From the Communication Workers Union’s call to retain vital universal postal services to the EIS’s campaign to protect our children’s education, we are working to convince people that there is indeed a better way.

The cabinet secretary, Mike Russell was nominated for the wooden heart award for the most callous cuts—and that was before the EIS’s decision to ballot members on whether to accept proposed changes to their pay and conditions.

I am sure that the march and rally in London on 26 March will be huge and that many of us will join it.

However, here in Scotland we can make a difference, too.

In particular, I ask the Scottish Government what action it will take to protect the one-price-goes-anywhere, six-days-a-week universal postal service obligation—a service that is essential for communities in Scotland.

How will the Scottish Government lead people in a better way?

I commend the work of the STUC.

 

Link : There Is A Better Way campaign >>>

 

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