Aberdeenshire UNISON

Public Works Update 30th April 2011

Aberdeen May Day March and Rally

Together we will win

May Day March moves along Union Street

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Branch members joined with other trade unions and community groups in Aberdeen on 30th April to celebrate May Day with a clear message that we will fight cuts to our public services.

Organised by Aberdeen Trades Union Council, the march made a colourful display as trade union banners, our own amongst them, moved down Union Street to a rally at the Castlegate.

There, a range of speakers spoke passionately in support of public services and pledged to defend them against this ConDem government's spiteful attacks. Speakers included Ian Tasker from the STUC, Janice Godrich of the PCS, Lewis MacDonald, Richard Baker, Ann Begg and Barney Crockett from the Labour Party and local trade unionists.

Kate Ramsden

"What kind of society do we want?"

Kate Ramsden, Branch Chair was amongst the speakers. She told the rally that the trade union movement faced its biggest challenge for years - the challenge to defend our public services against a Tory led government hell-bent on destroying them under the guise of dealing with the deficit.

But, said Kate, after the war the deficit was almost 5 times higher yet we created the welfare state, the NHS, built social housing and created jobs.

"And it wasn't public sector workers who caused the deficit. No cleaner, janitor, classroom assistant or homecarer gambled on the stock exchange. I didn't gamble on the stock exchange and I'm pretty sure none of you did either. So why should we be expected to pay for it?" asked Kate.

All of us who use public services are losing out, especially the most vulnerable, including our children. Almost 4,000,000 children live in poverty in the UK and all this at a time when bankers are back to business as usual with over £6 billion paid out in bonuses this year.

"Money that could start taking our children out of poverty. Cash that could save our public services and maintain services to our most vulnerable. How can Bob Diamond, Stephen Hester and their ilk sleep at night?" slammed Kate.

"These public service cuts are a flawed strategy from a flawed government. Not only do they hit the poorest hardest but they run the risk of damaging the economy more" she warned.

"Respected economists agree that cutting the jobs of ordinary workers at a time of recession is just madness. We need people to be in work and paying taxes - not out of work claiming benefits. We need to grow the economy and create more jobs. And we need fair taxation which takes from the wealthy who can afford it.

"How can it be right that our lowest paid workers - our cleaners, our classroom assistants and our janitors - pay more in tax than the CEOs of big business? The money is there - it's just in the wrong hands!" said Kate.

She told the rally that this is fast becoming a question of what kind of society do we want - A society that protects its millionaires and big business or a society that ensures that no child has to grow up in poverty?

"At this time of unprecedented cuts to the public services that we all hold dear, the public services that define us a country and a society, the public services that protect the poorest, and the most vulnerable, the public services that we all rely on, our trade union movement is at the very forefront of the fight to defend them.

"This is our time. This is what trade unions were created for and we will step up to the mark," said Kate.

"Together we can fight this government's spiteful attacks on our public services. And together we will win."

Click here to see the speech in full

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