- Report from Council budget protest
- Report shows impact of cuts on poorer communities
- English NHS crises
- Edinburgh TUC’s Support at Work service hit
by Council Cuts
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Day Time Adult Education classes are under threat across the City of Edinburgh. We at Craigroyston Community High School are campaigning to save our day time classes. There has been a change in the way money raised through lets and classes is allocated. Rather than the money going to the school it will now go directly to The City of Edinburgh Council. This undermines the incentive for schools to run Adult Day Time classes and this will have a profound impact on Adult Learners.
Please support our Campaign to save Adult Education Day Time classes not only at Craigroyston Community High School but city wide as well.
Click here to sign our petition.
Date: Saturday 14th February 2015
Location: The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh
HUNDREDS of demonstrators are expected to march from the Scottish Parliament to the Greek consulate on 14 February, Valentine’s Day, to show solidarity with Greece and its Syriza government in its battle with the EU to end austerity measures that, they claim, have impoverished the country.
The demonstration, ‘Democracy vs Austerity: Scotland stands with Greece’, has been called by the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC), and is an attempt to swing Scottish opinion behind the radical left Syriza party, which now heads up a government with an anti-austerity mandate following the Greek elections on 25 January.
Jonathon Shafi, RIC co-founder and an organiser of the demonstration, argued that the context of international solidarity is crucial.
“It is vital that the anti-austerity movement all over Europe stands shoulder to shoulder with the people of Greece,” Shafi said. “Syriza offers a beacon of hope, but the ECB are unrelenting and viciously opposed to progress based on a social alternative to austerity.
“We can only defeat austerity on an international basis, and that is why the Democracy vs Austerity rally on Saturday is important,” Shafi added.
Syriza are locked in negotiations with the EU over trying to come to an agreement about a financial plan for the country, ahead of a 28 February deadline where, if no deal is done, Greece would effectively default on its debts. Syriza says an end to EU-imposed austerity policies in Greece is essential to end the “humanitarian crisis” in the country, with record breaking levels of unemployment.
The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), which represents trade unions in Scotland, will also be represented at the demonstration, and General Secretary Grahame Smith believes the Scottish Government and “all of the parties of the parliament” should be backing the Greek Government’s strategy.
“The overwhelming support for anti-austerity parties in the Greek election and the election of Syriza represents a key moment in the battle against austerity economics in Europe,” Smith told CommonSpace. “Their entirely sensible proposals for promoting economic recovery including renegotiation of debt, investment for growth, tax reform and protection of workers and ordinary people – is an entirely orthodox approach that has been championed by mainstream economists globally.
“Working people in Greece did not cause the crisis any more than did workers in Scotland and they should not be bearing the brunt now,” Smith added.
“The STUC calls on the Scottish Government and all of the parties of the Parliament to express its support for the Greek Government’s strategy and to put whatever pressure it is able to on the European and world institutions which make up the Troika”
The Scottish Government has said the Greek election result should be “respected”, but Smith believes it should be putting pressure to bear on the powers at be in Brussels.
“The STUC calls on the Scottish Government and all of the parties of the Parliament to express its support for the Greek Government’s strategy and to put whatever pressure it is able to on the European and world institutions which make up the Troika, as well as the major European powers, to adopt a serious and constructive negotiating stance,” Smith said.
The rise of Syriza from fringe party to government has given a boost to the left across Europe, including in Spain where anti-austerity party Podemos is challenging to become the leading party in October’s Spanish elections.
Podemos Scotland and Syriza Scotland are both supporting Saturday’s demonstration, and Dr Myrto Tsakatika from Syriza Scotland told CommonSpace that there is now a burgeoning European anti-austerity movement.
“The citizens of Greece voted to reverse the politics of extreme austerity. They are fighting tooth and nail to have their democratic right to choose respected. A movement of solidarity is growing across Europe and the world. It is not a just a movement in support of the Greeks, it is a movement to reclaim the power that markets and financial institutions have taken from us. Join us on Saturday, make your voice heard,” Tsakatika stated.
Lynne Henderson, vice chair of People’s Assembly Scotland, an anti-austerity campaign, will also be speaking at the demonstration, and said Syriza’s “stunning election victory is an inspiration to those of us who know there is an alternative to this austerity gloom”.
Henderson added that a note of caution was necessary, as the anti-austerity movement shouldn’t look at Syriza through “rose-tinted spectacles”.
“We must be careful not to only look through rose tinted spectacles and to recognise the economic limits to the concessions that Syriza is offering, the requirement for coalition with right wing forces, the acceptance of Nato membership and so on,” Henderson said. “However, the People’s Assembly Against Austerity Scotland stands with the people of Greece and their democratically elected government in their mandate to oppose austerity. They will be challenged by the Troika, the establishment and by home-grown oligarchs. It is our job to stand with them.”
The demonstration begins at 12 noon outside the Scottish Parliament, before making its way to the Greek consulate at 12 Queens Crescent.
Reprinted with kind permission from Ben Wray @
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Date: Thursday 12th February 2015
Time: 8.30am – 10am
Location: City Chambers, High Street, Edinburgh
The Council is having its budget meeting on 12/2/2015. On that day it will set its budget for 2015/2016 and will agree on ways to make savings/cuts of £22 million with more and bigger cuts in the following two financial years.
Community and local trade union organisations will be lobbying the Council meeting and we appeal for public support. There will be a lobby outside the City Chambers from 8.30am to 10.00am. Everyone is welcome to attend demanding that there should not be cuts in vital services such as social care.
Edinburgh TUC will ask for a deputation to be heard by the Council. It’s deputation will speak to the paper that Edinburgh TUC has submitted to the Council in response to its budget consultation.
‘We believe that some of the savings/cuts proposed in the Council’s draft budget will have a negative and discriminatory effect on older people, women and disabled people.!
Our overall recommendation and plea to the Council is that its Budget Meeting on 12/2/2015 consider a motion to the Scottish Government demanding extra powers and additional finance to render unfair and counter-productive cuts and savings unnecessary. The Council must call on all Edinburgh MSPs and MPs to support its motion regardless of political party. The Council should convene a civic conference and ask a range of community organisations to back its demand for extra resources. The Council should lead a campaign to make sure we keep the services we need for a decent quality of life. The Council should actively promote good public services whether provided directly by the Council or indirectly by subcontracting.’
Steve is in his late sixties. He has a learning disability and suffers from mental health problems. He has spent most of his life in psychiatric institutions. During the decades he spent detained on locked wards he suffered both physical and sexual abuse.
In the last 15 years his life has improved dramatically. He now lives in his own flat but needs support workers to be with him at all times.
He is supported by a small voluntary sector organisation. The funding for this is provided by Edinburgh Council. In the last few years this funding has been cut by 25%. Budgets have been slashed, offices closed and his support workers’ wages have fallen by over £2000 in the last 8 years. The organisation now struggles to recruit new staff to provide the service on which he depends. Continue reading
UNISON Edinburgh branch president John Stevenson, said: “These job cuts have come as a body blow to workers who have been struggling for years to maintain front line services despite cut after cut. Dressing this up as new ways of working cannot disguise the reality of cuts to front line jobs and services.
“UNISON will hold the council to its no compulsory redundancy pledge. But if people take go voluntarily, we have to speak up for the staff left behind. In many areas where people directly serve the public we are seeing increased levels of stress. A loss of a further 1,200 jobs will only make this worse as people are again asked to do more with less.
“These are not ‘roles’ as the council says. They are people delivering a service. This is not about a ‘Tesco’ council as some reports say – at least we hope not because Tesco is losing money and shutting stores.”
Branch secretary Amanda Kerr added: “At least half of the posts being cut are front line staff delivering direct services. Two per cent of front line service delivery posts will be cut along with 500 front line team leaders and specialist posts. These are not managers sitting in offices, these are people directly providing services.
“Many more are in customer service. It almost beggars belief that the council expects to improve customer service by cutting customer service jobs. Of course people want to access services on the web but they also want to speak to a person when they need to.”
UNISON’s Tom Connolly who is also staff side secretary for all the Edinburgh council unions, said: “The report is riddled with assumptions, hopes and ambitions but precious little evidence. We are also worried that it displays a lack of understanding of some ‘roles’ and how services need to be delivered.”
“We also concerned that the report leaves the door open for back-door privatisation and hints at challenging the council’s no compulsory redundancy pledge.
“UNISON will engage with the council on its plans but we will also consult our members on what they want us to do. Our annual general meeting in February will decide what we do to resist these further attacks on our members and Edinburgh’s services.”
John Stevenson admitted some sympathy for the council due to central government cuts but called for councillors to stand up for services:
“We have some sympathy for the council because it is cuts from Holyrood and Westminster that are causing the problem. 40,000 jobs have been lost across Scottish councils. If that had been any other employer, politicians would have been queuing up to demand action and a rescue plan. The least that councillors can do is stand up for services and not pretend they can go on cutting and cutting. They should publish a budget that shows what services could look like if these cuts were not being forced.
“We call again for the Scottish Government to make emergency funding available to councils pending the funding review. After all, Holyrood underspent by £444 million last year while presiding over cut after cut to local services and jobs.”
Originally posted by UNISON City Of Edinburgh on January 09 2015.
Following on from the large public meeting on the 27th November this organising meeting aims to bring together activists to plan a campaign against the cuts to vital services being made by Edinburgh Council.The Council is proposing cuts of £22m for 2015/16, as part of a three-year strategy that will inflict further cuts of £55m and £77m in the next two financial years. This will significantly damage services for those most in need and will be resisted.