A new campaign highlighting the contribution council staff make to public life is being launched at UNISON’s local government conference in Liverpool.
A new local services champions day – due to take place on 17 October – will be at the heart of the campaign and will provide a focus for the public to consider how much the actions of council staff touch their lives.
A film illustrating local government’s importance to daily life highlights the contribution council workers make – from the registrar recording a birth, through workers supervising school mealtimes, to care workers assisting us in later life – was screened at the conference.
Councils are often the first target of government cuts and the contribution made by local authority staff is often overshadowed by other public services, and underappreciated by the public. Years of austerity have taken their toll on the sector, reducing staff numbers and heaping even more pressure on those workers who remain in post, says UNISON.
According to Local Government Association estimates, councils across England and Wales need an extra £5.8 billion this year to avoid further closures of services. Scotland and Northern Ireland will also need considerable increases in funding.
The local services champions campaign aims to encourage politicians, the media and the public to celebrate their local services and the people who deliver them. By doing do so UNISON hopes to change the conversation around local government and help prevent council jobs and services being seen as an easy target for cuts and savings.
Commenting on the campaign, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Local government has been an easy target for savage budget cuts, partly because the public doesn’t recognise its value, nor understand what it does.
“Council staff are as deserving of recognition for the work they do as any other public service workers. Without their dedication and commitment every aspect of our lives would be poorer, and that’s what this film and campaign are all about.
“We owe council staff a debt of gratitude for the work they do and the services they provide. That’s why it’s quite right they’re recognised, celebrated and fiercely defended.”
Notes to editors:
– UNISON has declared Thursday 17 October to be local services champion day and is launching the campaign of the same name to encourage politicians, the media and public to celebrate their local services and the people who deliver them.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors.
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