THE leading trade union figure in Scotland has warned that councils are “on the brink of collapse”.

Speaking at the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) annual congress in Dundee on Wednesday, Roz Foyer, general secretary of the STUC, said local authorities were struggling with budget cuts but that “it simply does not have to be this way”.

“If we continue to see cuts to our public services then our local authorities will stand on the brink of collapse,” Foyer (below) told delegates.

The National:

“We are already seeing councils barely able to function, with cut after cut being inflicted upon them by central governments.”

She added: “There is another way. Council workers can no longer bear the strain of government cuts – the Scottish Government must act.”

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Speaking to the National, Foyer anticipated future strike action from local authority workers should budget cuts continue.

“I would say to the Scottish Government, the ball is very much in their court,” Foyer said.

“They cannot continue to cut local government to the level that they are and expect strikes not to be the logical conclusion of that sort of budgeting.

“Those workers aren’t just fighting for their own terms and conditions; we’re at the stage of cuts now where they’re fighting to protect jobs and services that are vital to their communities.”

Cuts to council budgets have been seen across Scotland, as local authority body Cosla warned that the council tax freeze has left a £160 million funding gap for local authorities.

Where we lead, the politicians will follow

Speaking to delegates in Caird Hall, Dundee, Foyer looked back on the last year of trade union activity.

According to the STUC, in the last 12 months there have been more than 450 strikes across Scotland, involving more than 165,000 workers.

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“The last year has shown us there are vibrant rays of light in Scotland’s trade union movement,” she concluded.

“When we unite and fight hard, we can win; on pay, on conditions, on pensions, on workers’ rights, and on making Scotland a fairer, more equal country.

She encouraged trade unionists to “keep going, keep struggling, keep pushing, keep organising, and building and growing our movement”.

“If we keep doing that, then where we lead, the politicians will follow.”