Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hame to Scotland's Hot Summer

 NO EASY BERTH for privateers

SCOTLAND'S First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was on bright and sparkling form when she visited the USA earlier this month. Appearing on the satirical news programme The Daily Show she told host John Stewart: "You billed me on your website as a comedian - so you've raised all these expectations that I'm going to be funny".

"And I'm a politician, and as you know, politicians are rarely very funny."

Then when the conversation got on to Scottish oil stocks, Stewart mockingly asked: "How much are we talking about here? May we invade you."

Sturgeon replied: "I think this is progress because you just heard there Jon, presumably on behalf of the United States ask permission to invade an oil-producing country, it doesn't usually work that way."

 But the SNP leader was coming home to face trouble in her own back yard - almost literally - and residents who say its beyond a joke.  While she was away the  'Let's Save Govanhill' campaign group was taking council officers on a tour of their estate showing them the amount of rubbish strewn around, which they blame on neglect and fly-tipping.

They are calling on Glasgow city council leader Gordon Mathieson to intervene.
The group have also met with Nicola Sturgeon as part of their campaign. She was MSP for Govan before that constituency was abolished, and still represents the area as MSP for Glasgow Southside.

The campaigners have posted photographs of rubbish-strewn streets and greens on Facebook. Demanding "serious intervention into the ghetto Govanhill has now become", Liz Armour of the Save Govanhill group said : "Yet again the images of Nicola Sturgeon's constituency have shocked many people. Others have said this is nothing new. The sad thing is children live in this filth and they see the squalor everyday surrounding them.

"Despite council officials viewing it firsthand on their tour we are not holding our breaths waiting for some serious action from them, instead we will continue holding our noses at the stink that Govanhill is now creating for Glasgow."

When I first heard that protesters were going to Nicola Sturgeon my thought was that surely this was a council matter, and not up to the First Minister?  I wondered if the Labour Party was stirring things up, and deliberately diverting people's frustration so as to embarrass the SNP leader. But a friend who lives in Govan assures me people there are well aware of the Labour-led Glasgow city council's responsibilities, and were turning to their MSP because they felt the authorities were neglecting them.

Meanwhile, away from the schemes and back-streets of Glasgow, another struggle is taking place, and this is one we predicted.  In 2007, hearing that the SNP having received funds from the Souter family  had dropped its position on public ownership of transport, I wondered how this might affect Caledonian MacBrayne, whose ferries provide the vital service to the Scottish islands.

Now here is Richie Venton, industrial organiser for the Scottish Socialists Party:

Caledonian Macbrayne (CalMac) ferry workers – members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport workers’ union (RMT) – are taking industrial action in defence of their pensions, jobs, conditions of work – and against privatisation by the Scottish government, who seem set to hand the publicly-owned CalMac ferries over to the private, profiteering Serco.

They start with an overtime ban, followed by a 24-hour strike.

The workers run lifeline services to remote communities on the Clyde and Hebrides CalMac ferries.

These RMT members deserve and need the solidarity of every worker in Scotland.

They are themselves often members of the island communities who depend on these lifeline services. They are dedicated and hardworking, going out in all weather, and have only resorted to this action because of the threat to the services they provide as well as the jobs and conditions they’ve gained through collective union efforts.


They decided on this course of action by sweeping majorities in a ballot of RMT members, who make up about 680 of the 1,400-strong workforce. In a decisive 60% turnout, on a two-question ballot, 98% of them voted in favour of industrial action short of strike action, and 92% in favour of strikes. Even if the Tories’ vicious hurdles against the right of workers to withdraw their labour had already been made law, there would still be a legal majority for this solidarity action.

That in itself illustrates the strength of feeling of a workforce that has tried every other option to get guarantees on their pensions and against compulsory redundancies.

Read more about the CalMac struggle at Richie Venton’s blog.

In another dispute, hospital porters who have been fighting for upgrading and a raise in pay have taken their protest to the Dundee offices of Scottish Health Minister Shona Robinson whom they say is blocking their award.

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