On the march in protest on cuts

Public service cuts protest march - Town Square to Beveridge Park, Kirkcaldy
Public service cuts protest march - Town Square to Beveridge Park, Kirkcaldy

HUNDREDS of Fifers have marched through Kirkcaldy in protest at cuts to services.

The demonstration was organised by local government union PCS.

Around 300 people took part and they were joined by Gordon Brown, Kirkcaldy MP, who was at the Town Square, and Lindsay Roy, Glenrothes MP.

Several Scottish Parliamentary candidates also attended, including Marilyn Livingstone and Claire Baker (Labour), and Independent, Andrew Rodger.

Protestors came from a number of unions, ranging from the EIS to UNISON while Dundee and West Lothian Trades Council also attended.

One banner declared: ‘’The ‘l’ in Kirkcaldy is silent - we won’t be.’’

While the number was perhaps lower than anticipated - ‘‘it’s about quality, not quantity’’ said one speaker - the clear message from all the speakers was that the campaign against cuts was just beginning.

And there was strong criticism of councillors for implementing the cuts rather than supporting the campaign against them.

Dave Moxham, deputy general secretary of the STUC, accepted budgets were challenging, but hit out: ‘‘They were elected to by people to stand with them - not against them.

‘‘Why do we never see councillors with us saying ‘we will join you in this fight?’

‘‘Instead of running exercises on what cuts should be made, they should be running exercises telling people how to fight them.

‘‘If those councillors - and MSPs - fought with us instead of implementing cuts we would find ourselves in a far stronger campaign position.’’

Mr Moxham said the cuts would be severe - and the campaign to halt them was just beginning.

‘‘We have a Government that knows the cost of everything and the value of absolutely nothing,’’ he added.

Protestors were told that public sector services were better than their private sector equivalent - care homes were highlighted as an example - and had to be defended, and that workers were prepared for strike action if necessary.

Dougie Black, regional officer with UNISON, said: ‘‘These cuts are beginning to bite.

‘‘Frontlife Fife is under severe threat, Ardroy is no longer under local government control, and colleges are facing 10 per cent cuts.

‘‘What’s next? Libraries - these will be on the nxt hit list when councils will be looking to put them to a charitable trust.’’

He also criticised Fife Council for opting for compulsory redundancies as it sought budget cuts.

‘‘We hear they are trying to avoid compulsory redundancies,’’ he said. ‘‘They (Fife Council) have failed absolutely miserably.

‘‘ We have had the equivalent of 60 to 70 full-time equivalent posts gone through compulsory redundancy - and many others are going through voluntary programmes. Home carers, shopping delivery assistants, playground supervisors have gone - people we rely on for a safe society for ourselves and our children.

‘‘No work means no pay and no money in the local economy. For every £1 a public sector worker spends, something like 64p goes into the local community.

‘‘The impact of these cuts goes beyond the public sector.’’