Whilst worker pressure has at least achieved some incremental increase from the UK’s austerity approach, it is not acceptable that so many public service workers, including teachers, fire fighters and many nurses, should face further pay cuts.
We recognise that the Finance Secretary has a difficult job in protecting Scotland’s budget against UK austerity. The smug self-satisfaction of the Scottish Tories belies the havoc that their government is wreaking on public services across the UK.
However the SNP made several ambitious manifesto commitments and says it wants to do right by public workers. So now was the time to be bold.
Scottish workers have made their demands clear, and dialogue between the STUC and Derek MacKay has emphasised the urgency of a real-terms pay rise for all public workers.
He can expect to see a sustained campaign from public workers to begin a real process of restoring their livelihood. The issue of public sector pay will not disappear.
Every public worker in Scotland deserves a pay-rise at inflation-level or above. This means that the Finance Secretary has to be clear he is funding every area of public sector provision to ensure this can be delivered.
We will be looking particularly closely at the detail of the budget, but are disappointed in the real terms cuts in resource funding for local government.
Whilst its good that the debate on tax has finally begun, the STUC is disappointed that the Scottish Government has not used their powers to make a significant commitment to public service investment and public worker pay.
£20 a week additional tax for someone earning £2000 a week is simply too little when public services are at breaking point. To find more resources the Finance Secretary could have abandoned the Small Business Bonus scheme which drains the economy of £200 million a year with no evidence that it is the best way to invest in local economies. If it is to exist, it must focus on creating jobs that pay at least the Living Wage.
Public workers will now be seriously doubting this government’s commitment to our services.
For more information please contact Dave Moxham on 0141 337 8122