Hundreds of firefighters in uniform descended on Holyrood this morning. Not to put out a fire, but to fuel the flame of fightback against Scottish and UK government cuts to public services.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union were joined in solidarity by trade unionists from all parts of the public sector and supportive politicians including Scottish Labour’s new leader, Richard Leonard.
The day after the Tory UK Budget, Scottish workers stood together to say to the SNP Scottish government that enough is enough, and that further cuts to the Fire Service and austerity pay will not be tolerated.
In general terms, yesterday’s UkBudget was staggeringly bereft of any plans to invest in public service or the workforce suffering years of real terms pay cuts. Hammond’s Budget will be remembered as the nothing for nothing budget:
– nothing on the desperately needed investment in public services
– nothing on ending the public sector pay cap
– and absolutely nothing on tax justice.
Hammond’s budget was about tax cuts not tax collection. Three weeks after the Paradise papers exposed ongoing and systemic avoidance by billionaires, big business and even politicians. Our tax gap stands at £119 billion each year.
Pretend as he might, he cannot fix the disaster that is universal credit by cutting waiting period by a week. So people now face five weeks of foodbank dependency rather than six.
Firefighters agree that nurses deserve a pay rise, but so do the firefighters too, and so all public sector workers whether they are hospital porters, tax collectors, teachers, or care workers.
Uniformed and non-uniformed, front line and back office, to pay the staff properly, public services need to be properly resourced.
To the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament – the call is equally robust. We didn’t create a Scottish Parliament to pass down Tory cuts. We are not interested in “wisny me” politics.
Theredevolved responsibility for public sector pay and public services such as the fire service – it’s time to put the money where the mouth is. Standing up for Scotland means just that.
Use tax raising powers to fight Tory austerity. Use powers to invest in public services. Use devolved pay powers to end the Tory pay cap and put money in the pockets of Scottish workers and therefore into the economy of Scotland.
PCS members in a national ballot voted 99% to oppose the pay cap. With 78% willing to take strike action they are no longer just saying that they “deserve” a pay rise they are DEMANDING one, right here, right now.
We stand with the firefighters in saying enough is enough!