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Sat 4 February 2012

UNISON calls for radical reform and democratic service design in local government 

Launch of UNISON Scotland manifesto for local government elections

You can’t cut your way to better public services, UNISON has warned Scotland’s councils. Launching the union’s manifesto for May’s local elections today (Saturday 4 February), UNISON Convener Lilian Macer outlined the union’s alternative – a radical reform of local government around five key democratic principles and direct involvement of users and staff in the design of local public services.

Lilian Macer, UNISON Scotland Convener, said:

“The cuts are hurting – as we warned they would. But they’re not working. You can’t cut your way to better services. And you can’t privatise or outsource your way to better services. Local government has to make a radical, democratic change - by involving users and staff directly in service design.

“What we want is real improvement - not the failed dogma of privatisation and outsourcing. When they’ve been subjected to democratic scrutiny, experience shows they’ve fallen apart – like Edinburgh’s costly privatisation project.

“Centrally driven initiatives cannot provide the answers to the complex needs of our diverse communities. People need to have a real say in how services are delivered in their communities. Only full involvement of users and staff in service design and delivery will guarantee that.”

Mike Kirby, UNISON Scottish Secretary, said:

“We welcome the fact that elections to local government are no longer overshadowed by the Scottish Parliament election. We campaigned successfully for that and we now hope this election will bring a much-needed focus on the importance of local government and the essential services our members work to provide for their communities.

“Tackling poverty and inequality to make Scotland fairer is the key to overcoming the serious challenges we face. A growing body of evidence tells us that fairer, more equal societies perform better on indicators such as crime, health and education. Local government has a crucial role in reducing inequality to help create the fairer and better Scotland we want to live in.”

 “Through the principles of Democracy, Fairness, Excellence, Partnership and Investment, local government can support our communities through this crisis - and lead the way out of the crisis through investment in those communities.”

Mike Kirby added:

 “We’ll be challenging all the candidates in the forthcoming elections on their commitment to public services - and asking them to support these principles and our manifesto for a better way.“

ENDS

For further information please contact:
Mike Kirby, Scottish Secretary - 07939 143 355
Dave Watson, Head of Bargaining and Campaigns Scotland - 07958 122409
Stephen Low, Policy Officer - 0141 342 2811 / 0795 685 2822
Malcolm Burns, Communications Officer - 0141 342 2877 / 07538 640 396

Note to editors

1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing over 160,000 members working in the public sector in Scotland, including staff in local government areas.

2. UNISON Scotland is launching its Manifesto for the Scottish Local Government election at its Scottish Council meeting in Glasgow from 10am-1pm on Saturday 4 February 2012. The manifesto document will be available on our website www.unison-scotland.org.uk  shortly after the meeting.

3. Five Principles for Public Service  – from the UNISON Scotland Manifesto for Scottish Local Government Elections 2012

• DEMOCRACY: Accountability and the meaningful involvement of users and staff - rather than the market - will provide the services the public want

• FAIRNESS: Essential to build a fairer society both in delivering services and as a model employer

• EXCELLENCE: Should be the aim of all Scotland’s public services.We should be the country others look to, to see what can be achieved

• PARTNERSHIP: Creating the joined up working essential to meet the complex challenges Scotland faces without costly and disruptive reorganisation

• INVESTMENT: Essential to support communities in this economic crisis and lead the way out through growth and employment

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