Councillors Against the Cuts

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2013 Local Government Service Group Conference
17 February 2013

Conference reiterates our condemnation, expressed by this Conference in 2012 of the Conservative-led coalition for the widespread and unprecedented destruction of council services that has resulted from the savage and unprecedented reductions in central government grants to local authorities and fire authorities and to the devolved nations. Local government workers have borne the brunt of this in job losses, the pay freeze, and attacks on terms and conditions.

Conference notes that these continuing attacks have prompted debate within local government about how progressive local authorities should respond, and believes that UNISON should be involved in these debates. Conference recollects that this Conference in 2011 called on the Service Group Executive to work with local authorities to publish ‘parallel budgets’ that highlight the services they want to provide but are prevented from doing so by the gap between the Government grants they need and the grants they get.

Conference notes the emergence of the group “Councillors Against Cuts” and notes that this brings together Councillors who express the following views;

a)“We are a new network of local councillors formed to support the fight against cuts. We believe that instead of implementing the Coalition’s cuts, councils and councillors should refuse to do so and help workers and communities organise in resistance.

b)We are pledged to vote against all cuts to services and jobs, increases in rents and charges, and increases in council tax.

c)We do not accept that cuts are “necessary”: there is plenty of money in society, but it is in the wrong hands. Taxing the rich and business, taking the wealth of the banks and cutting Trident are all rich sources of funds.

d)We stand in solidarity with anti-cuts campaigns, with people defending their local services and with the broader community, tenants and residents, our children, disabled people, pensioners etc – in defence of the living standards and rights of the most vulnerable people in society as the Coalition government attacks them.”

Conference believes that the emergence of Councillors Against the Cuts is a welcome addition to the debate which needs to take place in the labour and trade union movement about how to respond to the Coalition’s cuts.

Conference therefore;

1)Calls upon the Service Group Executive to work with the National Executive Council to initiate a debate in the labour and trade union movement about how Councils and Councillors should respond to the continuing savage spending cuts imposed by Central Government, consistent with UNISON Rules and agreed policy, and;

2)Requests that UNISON Labour Link establishes a dialogue with Councillors Against the Cuts in order to determine the scope for joint campaigning activity within UNISON Rules and agreed policy.