In his latest Post column, Clydebank's STUC secretary Thomas Morrison shares his thoughts on the 'People's budget'...

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Last week, I was in Dundee at the Scottish Trade Union Congress – sometimes called the workers’ parliament – as one of the delegates from Clydebank TUC.

It was a progressive and militant congress around the theme ‘Scotland’s Workers Demanding Better.’

One of the debates we were involved in focused on budget cuts.

We argued for the STUC to campaign for councils to refuse to do the dirty work of the Scottish and Westminster governments, refusing to cut services and jobs.

Why should communities pay more through their council tax for fewer services?

Why should workers be thrown out of work when their skills are sorely required?

We argued that elected members should be campaigning along with the unions and their communities for a budget that reflects the needs of the area – hence the term a ‘needs budget’ or a ‘people's budget.’

Congress did not go as far as we wanted but they did support the concept of ‘parallel budgets.’ This is where councils cave in to the demands for the budget cuts placed upon them from above but also publish a budget that their communities really need.

The Joint Trade Unions in West Dunbartonshire Council have campaigned for no cuts to take place but, on being refused, have requested at least a parallel budget.

Labour group leader Martin Rooney has previously refused to do so and recently called the above "a gimmick."

Not for the first time, Martin finds himself out of step with the trade unions – on this occasion at Scottish level, as well as local.

Rather than some sort of gimmick, parallel budgets are a useful tool for campaigning around the demand for a redistribution of wealth.

We live in a country where, for instance, billions of pounds were handed out to cronies of the Tories during the pandemic.

In Scotland, £2billion was handed back to Westminster by the Scottish Government as an underspend.

The money is clearly there, it is just in the wrong hands.

Martin and his buddies may have succumbed to the demands of parliaments which are seen as stuffed with self-servicing individuals but workers have not.

The unions are gearing up for the battle ahead, with a lobby of the Scottish Parliament planned for May 11 and a Dumbarton demonstration on June 10.