Defend council housing
Glasgow not for sale
AROUND 400 trade unionists and tenants came together last Saturday in Glasgow to demonstrate against the council's plans to privatise its housing. The demonstration was called by a joint trade union committee of council workers, and the determined protesters marched noisily and defiantly through the rain to a rally in the City Halls.
Speakers at the rally lambasted the Scottish Executive and the city council. Eight out of ten people would rather rent their homes from the council, according to recent research by Glasgow University. The Glasgow Housing Association (GHA), a quango set up to push privatisation through, does not even consider it an option.
Its survey sent out to tenants did not even list the council as an option when it asked the question, "Who do you want to run housing?"
Alan Richie of the STUC general council and UCATT union pointed out that the council wasted millions of pounds on feasibility studies until it got the one it wanted from accountants Ernst and Young. John Carrigan of the Scottish Tenants Organisation described the "tenants' forums" set up by the GHA as "council-run transfer factories to manufacture consent".
Alan Richie pledged the STUC's support for the campaign against housing stock transfer, and spoke of his disgust that a Labour government is privatising council housing. "Look what privatisation has done for our railways," he said.
One Labour MSP, Elaine Smith, has already broken ranks and come out against privatisation. Just the mention of her name at the rally won a round of applause. The ballot, planned for February, has already been pushed back until after the general election because of the scale of opposition. It may now be as late as 2002.