This was the gist of my contribution to Fife Council on behalf of Fife People’s Assembly, Fife Trades Union Council and the joint council Trade Unions.
We have already lost 40,000 public service jobs since 2008, it is predicted that another 15,000 will go over the next 2 – 3 years. Over the years, we have seen services slashed; we have seen the continuing privatisation of our public services and industries.
There is no more room for cuts, we have cut to the bone. Any new cuts will have a major and detrimental impact on the public services that we all rely on. This of course is nothing new,
it is all part of the Tory’s on-going manufactured austerity ideology.
Both the SNP and Labour now agree that austerity is a political choice and not a requirement, with both now standing on an anti-austerity platform. All over Scotland and the UK people will vote for you on that basis.
Well the time for talk is over. It is time to put your rhetoric into action, talk is cheap and to blame others is easier still.
The Condem Government made that political choice and condemned us to years of austerity. We are all in it together they said. Well the only ones that were in it together were the spivs in the city of London and 10% at the top of the tree, who got richer.
The Tories are now hell bent on finishing the job over the next 4 years. When a service is lost or privatised.
When decent public sector jobs are cut, they are never coming back. And that is why we need action now.
These new cuts to all local government budgets are happening now, you are deciding that here today. Well, they are also a political choice, a political choice you will make.
We cannot await some promised utopia of either Independence or a Corbyn led Labour Government, neither of which is even guaranteed to come into being. You all are making a political choice of either implementing the austerity ideology or resisting it.
The Tories can be defeated; they lost on Tax Credits, the Trade Union Bill was halted as were the changes to ESA. Halted, unfortunately not by our elected members but by the unelected House of Lords. But that does prove the point, they can be defeated.
One stone is all it takes to start an avalanche. We need you to unite with our unions and communities and fight them on this issue. For Fife to be the stone that starts the avalanche.
Because for the Tory’s Austerity is working. For them it is all about; privatising public services and industry, destroying our Social Security and the Welfare State. It is the perpetuation of their Neo-Liberal ideals.
On the other hand Austerity to us; is in the rise in the numbers of foodbanks and those who are forced to use them. It is the vindictive benefit sanctions regime, it is the vindictive Work Capability Assessments. It is the rise in Victorian working conditions forced on workers. With low paid precarious contracts, Zero Hours and the draconian working conditions in companies like Amazon, G1 and Sports Direct. That is the employment that will be left for all the people who lose their jobs.
We are always told there is no money for our public services and more needs to be cut. But there is always money to give to the privateers. There is money to give to the oil industry, £1.5bn in tax breaks so far, £500 million magically created in emergency funding. Funded jointly by Holyrood and Westminster. Tax breaks and funding given to companies that have reaped billions in profits since the 80’s. Heaven forefend that we ask them to dip into their own profits, to save their own industry. £500 million that would protect all our services this year and there would be no need for us to be here today.
There was enough political will to magic up £375bn to bail out the very perpetuators of the crash. The bankers and spivs in the city.
Why is it, we are always willing to nationalise the privateers debt? Whilst cutting the throat of our Public services.
Tullis Russel closes, 2 steel mills face closure, Texas Instruments faces closure and the oil industry is shedding jobs. In each case millions have been allocated and task forces sent in. Where were the millions and task forces for the thousands of council workers who have already their jobs? Where are the millions and task forces for the 15,000 people who will now lose their jobs?
As ever, when it comes to public services and industry there is no intervention. There is no bail out for them. It is slash, cut and burn.
I will finish with this:
We have seen protests in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and now here in Fife. Calling on all councils and all Councillors, no matter what party, to stand together against these cuts. To put aside party politics and to work together. To work together with our unions and our communities. To resist these cuts and protect the jobs and local services.
That is what we are asking you here today. For you to make a choice. A political choice. A choice that is anti-austerity, not just in words but in deeds.