TRADE councils in Scotland are set to stage demonstrations against council cuts in the run up to the Scottish Budget.

The month-long series of protests will take place across the country and has been backed by the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), Scotland’s largest trade union body.

Roz Foyer (below), general secretary of the STUC, called on the Scottish Government to act against cuts, saying “the time for excuses is over”.

The National: Roz Foyer

Local trades councils are set to stage demonstrations against the cost of living crisis and council funding cuts in the lead up to the Scottish Budget, which is set to be published next month.

The STUC say that 60,000 jobs have been lost from local government since 2007 with social care, transport and maintenance services facing cuts within communities.

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Foyer added that trades councils were “the lifeblood of our local communities”.

She continued: “They have seen first-hand the devastating cuts to local authorities and the impact on ordinary workers throughout their region.

“Everyone deserves a good standard of living with fully funded public services to boot.

“That cannot be done on a shoestring budget and governments of all stripes need to take a long hard look at themselves if they think our communities can survive another round of brutal austerity.”

The STUC called on the Scottish Government to replace the council tax in addition to increasing taxes on the wealthy within their upcoming budget, redistributing revenue directly to local authorities.

Foyer said that the Scottish Government had the powers “to raise an additional £3 billion a year through income, wealth and property taxes, which could fund the public services we all rely on.”

She added: “The time for excuses is over. We need to see bold action from government and our local trades councils will be holding their feet to the fire in the run-up to the budget.”

Local trade unionists are taking a stand

Falkirk and Moray Trades Union Councils will demonstrate outside their council headquarters on Saturday, followed by other trade bodies in the run up to the Budget announcement on December 19.

The National spoke to members of the Falkirk Trades Union Council as they prepared to take action at the weekend.

Members will be distributing leaflets and will be staging a short rally, with speakers including Richard Leonard MSP, local councillor Euan Stainbank and Lewis Clark, acting chair of the east region of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).

Falkirk Council is currently facing a £64 million funding deficit over the next five years, with job vacancies meaning more potholes, weeds, litter and illegal dumping.

Duncan McCallum of Falkirk Trades Union Council told The National: “While there are plenty of other things I’d rather be doing than standing in the street on a cold and wet November day, like the others who are attending I believe it’s important that we show we do not believe the road Falkirk Council is going down is the right one.

“The SNP administration does not seem to accept that each post unfilled is a job lost, something that cuts both opportunities for generations to come but also reduces the money being spent in the town’s shops and businesses.

“The administration is turning Falkirk into a DIY town; want anything done, do it yourself.

“From experience I know that after a few years when things go well thanks to the enthusiasm of the volunteers, over time this will diminish, services will fail and facilities will be lost.”

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The STUC Scotland Demands Better campaign has three targets: save services; axe council tax; and tax the wealthy.

McCallum said Falkirk Trades Union Council supported these aims and believed that “the Scottish Government has failed the people of Scotland through its failure to tackle the problems created.”

Moray Trades Union Council is also set to take action on Saturday and will be collecting signatures for a petition in Elgin town centre, which calls for pay rises for public service workers, warm homes through publicly owned energy companies, cheaper public transport and more support for childcare.

Moray Council leaders are currently debating the allocation of up to £20 million in cuts over the next two years.

Moray Trades Union Council called for progressive tax reform in a letter to the Finance Secretary, which was bagged by Moray Labour councillors, the Moray Green councillor, Maggie Chapman MSP and Moray Liberal Democrats.

David Blair, of Moray Trades Union Council, called on the Scottish Government for urgent reforms ahead of the Scottish Budget.

Blair said: “The past 15 years have seen a vast transfer of wealth from workers to the rich, and from public to private hands.

“The cost of living crisis shows that we urgently need to rebalance that situation.

“The wealth of Scotland’s five richest families is roughly equal to the entire public sector payroll.

“It cannot be right that Moray Council is cutting services and Moray College staff are fighting compulsory redundancies while others have more money than they could possibly spend in several lifetimes.”