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STUC 2014 Dundee

Investment in public services and living wage are key to recovery

Margaret Cook
Margaret Cook

The STUC is calling on UK and Scottish Governments to end austerity and instead invest in public services and pay a Living Wage to ensure a 'better today and more prosperous tomorrow for Scotland’s people'.

And it urged the Scottish Government to 'change its mind' and use its procurement rules to insist that contractors pay the Living Wage.

UNISON's Margaret Cook told delegates: "Over half of the 13 million people in poverty in the UK actually came from working families. Statistics like this should not exist – or be allowed to become even more grave. We must take action."

"We need to put people back to work and make sure the work they do pays enough to live on. One obvious way to start doing that is to adequately fund our public services.
Not attack them through cuts as the Westminster government has or leave them to wither on the vine by refusing to raise money for them as the Scottish government has", said Margaret.

"I am proud to come from a Local Authority who pay the living Wage ensuring that workers are rewarded for the efforts which they put in. People should not be working yet still be unable to get by. People should not be working tirelessly and yet unable to provide for themselves and their families."

Margaret was moving a UNISON Scotland motion as part of a composite with Aberdeen TUC. The motion said; "Congress believes that investment in adequately funded public services is the most cost effective method for overcoming these problems. In addition to the immediate social benefit, properly funded public services can provide a source of decently paid employment and training, boosting demand in local economies."

It called on governments to:-

- commit to ending the decline in real wages of workers in public services;

- work to ensure that Living Wage provisions are at the heart of public procurement regimes; and

- make increasing ordinary workers’ share of Scotland’s wealth through increased wages a key priority of social, industrial and economic strategy.

Margaret said: "Our tax dodger owned media and the Tory Government in Westminster are intent on perpetuating a myth that those experiencing poverty are “lazy” and “Scroungers”. We must continue to mount high profile campaigns against this.

"UNISON’s has our “Worth it” initiative – this aims to show the real life stories behind the wage freezes and cuts. We are moving this into a new phase of collecting more stories from members in order for each worker to stand up and say that they are worth more than the situation they find themselves in. We need to continue with initiatives like this in order to ensure that every worker receives the living wage.

"One big step forward to would be if all public sector contracts had to include a Living Wage stipulation."

The Scottish Government refused to put this stipulation into its procurement legislation.

"Saying that they will do what they can with regulations once they have passed the legislation isn’t good enough. The Scottish Government still has a chance to change its mind on this one and we must use every opportunity to try and get them to do so", said Margaret.

"We need to give chances to our young people – we need to put people back to work and make sure that employment means a living wage. This composite outlines some of the ways that can be done."

Date 14 April 2014

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