A flurry of strikes has hit Scotland this week, with public and private sector workers fighting back after sweeping majorities in union ballots for collective action, primarily in defense of their wages.
The Scottish Socialist Party has no hesitation in offering 100% support and solidarity to all these trade unionists, who are showing tremendous courage in the frenzied anti-trade union atmosphere coming out of Westminster, which has served to encourage employers to think they can ride roughshod over workers’ pay and conditions.
Grangemouth Port
Workers at Scotland’s biggest port, at Grangemouth, have started a two-week all-out strike, to be followed by an overtime ban, after Forth Port bosses stonewalled Unite union’s requests for a negotiated settlement. Crane drivers and cargo handlers taking this action will hit the port hard, an action they voted 100% in favour of in a 97% turnout!
This strength of feeling is in response to imposed changes of shift rotas that will slash £1,600 a year from weekend premium payments and another £200 a year from nightshift allowances.
This is an increasingly common form of attack on workers’ incomes, in pursuit of even higher profit margins and public sector cuts. Those affected also include whole swathes of retail workers and thousands in budget-slashing local government – regardless of whether run by Labour, SNP or various coalitions at council level.
FE Colleges
Thousands of college lecturers are taking their first sustained national strike action in over 20 years. As with the Grangemouth port workers, these members of the EIS Further Education Lecturers’ Association (EIS FELA) voted by a sweeping majority to strike; 93.5%.
At the heart of this dispute is the demand for equal pay, to end pay disparities of £10-13,000 between different colleges across Scotland. Their determined action is further fueled by frustration at years of education cuts, and fury at obscene ‘golden parachutes’ awarded to Principals and other senior management figures during the SNP’s mergers and centralisation of colleges.
The SSP not only offers unqualified support to the EIS-FELA union members taking this action, but in fact we have campaigned for restoration of national pay bargaining since our formation in 1998, and even produced a special edition of the SSP’s Scottish Socialist Voice on the issue about 15 years ago.
It is to their eternal discredit that the SNP government has carried on where their Labour-LibDem predecessors left off, failing to step in and remove these outrageous pay disparities, with salaries dependent on which college, in which town, lecturers doing exactly the same job happen to work.
On top of that, the SNP’s centralisation of colleges has led to no educational improvements, has reduced jobs, and contributed to the loss of at least 144,000 places for students – overwhelmingly working class students; hardly a track record matching the SNP’s claims to be ‘Stronger for Scotland’.
Council Workers
Smaller workforces are continuing their strike action against Labour-controlled Glasgow city council, and it’s arms-length offshoots, Cordia and Community Safety Glasgow (CSG).
About 130 Unison members – school jannies – have staged a 3-day strike as part of their long-running battle to win payments they deserve for duties their job includes, including dirty and heavy jobs. Parity with other workers doing the same type of work would mean an extra £500-1000 a year for the jannies.
CCTV staff, employed by CSG, who earn the giddy sum of £8.25 an hour, have started strikes for parity with others employed by the same CSG – who get payments of up to £7,500 for doing the same anti-social, 24/7 shift patterns as the CCTV staff.
And in neighbouring Labour-run West Dunbartonshire council, teachers in the EIS union have staged several days of strike action, and are now voting on whether to accept the council’s new offer on restructuring of schools that would have meant savage attacks on kids’ education, being a cost-cutting exercise falsely dressed up as shiny new ‘modernized’ restructuring of staffing and departments.
Solidarity with the Strikers
The Tories are doing their damnedest to eliminate the last vestiges of collective action by trade unionists. Labour pretend to be the new-found friends of the unions, ahead of the looming elections – but when in power, attack conditions and pay like the worst employers. The SNP make warm, cooing noises towards the unions, but show their unwillingness to take sides in situations where they could make all the difference, such as the FE colleges.
The Scottish Scoalist Party has an unrivaled record, spanning nearly two decades, of taking the side of workers, and building support for their struggles. We offer that ABC solidarity to all those taking action right now, in defiance of attempts by employers to crush their wages even further in favour of profit, and despite the vicious anti-union laws being made even more repressive by the Tories.


SNP Finance Secretary John Swinney today unveiled the Scottish Governments spending plans for the coming year. It was a budget statement Scottish Socialist Party national co-spokesperson Colin Fox described as “more insipid managerialism, lacking ambition and any serious intention of addressing Scotland’s systemic inequalities, chronic affordable housing shortage and lack of decent jobs”. The former Lothian MSP added: “Whilst it goes without saying the powers available to Holyrood are insufficient to fully address the needs of working people the fact remains John Swinney has again shown he has no intention of using even the existing powers to these ends’. “The …


THE Scottish Socialist Party today welcomed the conclusion reached by the Commission on Local Tax Reform that the council tax is unfair and ‘’must end”. The Commission report, to which the SSP contributed, outlined three alternatives, one based on income, the others on land and property. The cross-party body believed any new system should continue to be one of “general tax” rather than a “system of charges for specific services”. The Scottish Socialist Party has advocated an income based alternative for nearly 20 years now and favours a graduated income tax which rises as a person’s income rises. Colin Fox, …

Colin Fox: closing speech to the RISE Conference

Comrades, RISE is the most important left unity project Scotland has seen in a generation. Last weekend we reached another milestone in RISE’s development when we conducted simultaneous interventions into the Climate Change march in Edinburgh & the STUC Anti-Racism celebrations in Glasgow. Whilst the weather was foul the fact RISE was actively involved in both mass movements augurs well for the future and will not have been lost on our ‘dreich’ political opponents. This is the shape of things to come for Scotland’s Left Alliance. The progress we have made should be a source of encouragement to us all. The …

RISE Conference: From the Floor

Jordan Daly Co-Founder of Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) RISE Conference: From the Floor This weekend, I attended my first political conference. Like many other young people across Scotland, my engagement with active politics began throughout the 2014 referendum – the energy, vibrancy and diversity that the campaign created was infectious; and it left a lot of us with a drive to effect real change through direct activism and participation. RISE (Respect, Independence, Socialism, Environmentalism), Scotland‘s newest left wing electoral alliance – which will be footing candidates in the 2016 Holyrood elections – held it’s first annual democratic conference on …


Wednesday 18th November CHOOSE DEFIANCE – NOT DESTRUCTION! You couldn’t make it up! David Cameron, Tory MP for West Oxfordshire, recently wrote a letter to the Oxfordshire Tory council leader, berating his local authority for (to quote his epistle) “cuts to frontline services – from elderly day centres to libraries to museums. This is in addition to the unwelcome and counter-productive proposals to close children’s centres across the county”. The MP, claiming “shock and outrage”, goes on to demand why the council leader hasn’t looked at “back-office savings” – a euphemism for sacking council staff. Tory Tit-for-Tat The Tory council leader …


Southern England, not Scotland, is abandoning ship, says Varoufakis | News | The National

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Second indyref cannot be won by a one-party campaign

by Jenni Gunn The Yes campaign and the referendum as a whole served as an intense political education for many Scots—myself included. The experience is one that many campaigners will never forget: we all felt united in a feeling of hope and belief in something better. We all fought for independence—but what kind of independence? The independence campaign represented itself as a diverse movement buoyed by voices from across the political spectrum: it’s diversity as well as its prominence within social movements and community groups gave it political clout and as well as credibility. The SNP could never have hoped …

Failed demolition a symbol for housing policy failure

by Jack Ferguson Last year, Glasgow City Council and their partners announced the bizarre plan of demolishing Glasgow’s Red Road flats during the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games. It was meant as a celebration of the end of social housing, but was prevented by a storm of public protest. When the demolition finally did come, it was a spectacular botched job, which was a much better symbol of the failures of decades of Scottish housing policy. Since the Thatcher years, publicly owned housing has been systematically sold off, given away and deliberately run down. We have been encouraged to think …


SSP spokesman Colin Fox today criticised the Scottish Government’s privatisation of non-domestic water supplies to the NHS, Scottish Parliament, schools, prisons and local councils as a “further meek surrender to Tory philosophy.” Fox said : “Awarding this £320 million public contract to a private company Anglian Water exposes the Scottish Governments anti-privatisation promises.” “Hiding behind the excuse that the EU forces them to privatise these contracts they have once again run up the white flag on defending public services in Scotland from attack. Where was the campaign of opposition to this proposal? The public would have been completely behind them.” …