‘Opposition to all cuts, support for industrial action by workers and mass resistance’
An historic step was taken on Saturday 29 January when the Scottish Anti Cuts Alliance (SACA) was established at a conference in Glasgow. The conference came after a successful Defend Glasgow Services rally that drew more than 400 people to George Square, in the centre of the city, to hear local trade unionists, young people and students condemn the cuts of the Con-Dem government, the Scottish Parliament and Glasgow City Council, and offer a fighting alternative.
The launch of SACA and its founding principles was democratically discussed and debated. The conference of almost 100 trade unionists and anti-cuts campaigners was made up of 58 delegates elected from trade union organisations, campaigns such as Youth Fight for Jobs and Right to Work, student organisations, anti-cuts campaigns from across Scotland, and another 35 visitors.
Anti-cuts campaigns were represented from Dundee, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, Edinburgh and West Dunbartonshire. Trade union organisations including Unison branches from Dundee, Glasgow and North Ayrshire sent delegates.
Leading members of the PCS union took part, as did branches of Unite and the UCU unions, and the Clydebank Trades Council. The Scottish Pensioners Forum, the disabled rights campaign, the Black Triangle, the National Union of Students and the Glasgow anti-cuts student network were also represented.
In all, 23 anti-cuts and trade union organisations took part in the conference making it the widest and most representative anti-cuts organisation in Scotland.
The fighting tone of the conference was set by Janice Godrich, President of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), who outlined the vicious cuts planned by the Con-Dem government to the civil service that if implemented, will mean the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs and the decimation of vital services.
Key founding principles
Janice highlighted the recent announcement by TUC leader Brendan Barber that unions should discuss co-ordinated industrial action against the cuts. She explained that unions with a fighting leadership, such as the PCS, would continue to push for this and stressed that the development of a powerful anti-cuts movement would pressure union leaders to organise action.
Raymond Watt of the Right to Work campaign also spoke and Brian Smith, branch secretary of Glasgow City Unison, then moved the proposed founding statement of the SACA.
Brian argued that the key founding principles of the alliance should be opposition to all cuts, support for industrial action by workers and mass resistance by communities, support for the setting of no cuts ’needs budgets’ by councils and the Scottish Parliament, and that elected politicians who want to participate in anti-cuts campaigning should vote against cuts.
Brian outlined an alternative to the cuts, including calling for increased taxation of the rich and big business. He explained that SACA would not be a substitute for the trade unions or local anti-cuts campaigns but would act as a national coordinating body to build a mass anti-cuts movement against the cuts.