Friday, 25 December 2009
Sunday, 15 November 2009
7pm - note earlier time - 7pm
The Piper on the Square (upstairs), George Sq, Glasgow
UNITE against racism and fascism
UNITE against poverty and inequality
UNITE for an inclusive, independent socialist Scotland
A Polish anti-fascist
Liam Turbett - Scottish Socialist Youth
Carolina Perez - whose Chilean socialist family were persecuted by Pinochet
Keith Baldassara - veteran anti-fascist & SSP
Wednesday, 4 November 2009
Sunday, 25 October 2009
Campsie branch Scottish Socialist Party braved the weather today and went along to the car-boot sale in Milngavie. We sold lots of bric-a-brac and books - and despite the reduced crowds because of the terrible weather, we managed to raise nearly £70 for Kevin McVey's campaign in Glasgow North East.
To Join the SSP - or to find out how to donate to our campaigns, click HERE
Saturday, 24 October 2009
Photo of Royal Mail workers on Strike, Friday 23 October 2009 - photo, Ron Mackay, SSP Campsie Branch.
Statement from Campsie Branch SSP HERE
More strike coverage HERE
Thursday, 22 October 2009
"We note the Bankers, who are now public service workers, and whose mishandling of our money through their greed cost the tax payer - this country - billions, are getting huge bonuses again, whilst the posties who helped Royal Mail make a £400 million profit last year are being asked to suffer job losses, loss of pension rights and are forced to work longer and longer shifts for less money.
The call from the capitalist political parties like new Labour and the Conservatives that "we are all in this together," when this is patently untrue, grates all the more when you know that those telling us we must live in "austerity" to get through this economic crisis are very rich men."
VICTORY TO THE WORKERS. SAVE OUR SERVICES!
Photos of some of today's pickets HERE
Sunday, 11 October 2009
Landslide for National Postal Strikes By Richie Venton SSP national workplace organiser
Cuts: that’s what all the major parties - Labour, SNP, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats - are arguing about. But not if there is an alternative to the cuts but who would be the best at making the cuts. But let’s be clear we are bailing them out of the complete mismanagement of their economic and financial systems.
Bring on the Clowns
Governments led by Thatcher, Blair, Brown, McConnell and Salmond have supported the changes to the running of the financial and economic system that have led to the greatest crisis since the 1930s. They have overseen the deregulation of financial markets and institutions and the liberal use of interest rates that created a huge speculative bubble in every type of debt and a mountain of 700 trillion US dollars of unregulated derivatives. They bailed these systems out with hundreds of billions of pounds of borrowed money which they are asking us to pay back through cuts.
Having all cheered from the sidelines patting each other on the back for their wonderful creation they now blame everyone but themselves for the mess and are asking us to pick up the bill for their reckless folly.
The shortfall in money has come from a bailout of the crisis ridden financial system and a deep UK recession caused by the resultant collapse of consumer credit. So far the government has spent about £150 billion (bn) bailing out the banks and another £150bn on quantitative easing (QE) – where they print money and buy back government and other debt from financial institutions. They are going to spend another £25bn on QE and are prepared to underwrite another £700bn of the banks bad debts. Practically none of the money spent so far has found its way into the real economy - about £2bn has gone into mortgage lending helping to temporarily stop the fall in house prices. Most of the bailout money is being horded by the banks to pay off losses and to have for any future potential losses. So far the money spent amounts to 25% of what we produce (gross domestic product) annually.
At the same time central government revenues are falling because of the recession they have caused. Rising unemployment has a double edged sword of reducing tax revenues and increasing benefits payments for central and local government. In August of this year there was a £17bn deficit in the UK budget from this trend.
One way to pay for the shortfalls is borrow money on the international financial markets through issuing UK government debt – called gilts. Then pay it back over several years with increased revenues from a growing economy. The average that was raised in the five years prior to 2009 by the UK government in this way was £47 bn per year. In 2009 the estimate is £146bn and in 2010 the forecast is £180bn. The problem with this model is two fold: one the economy will not recover (if at all) sufficiently to create extra tax revenue to make these payments; second the UK economy is so fundamentally weak that Bank of England interest rates will have to remain at very low levels which means a weak currency and therefore nobody – domestic or international – will want to buy these UK government bonds.
That is why all the plans put forward to make cuts by the major parties are so vague: nobody knows how much will have to be cut to cover the unknown developing black hole in the UK’s finances. That is why there is a general message of we are all going to have “bear the pain over several years” to sort out their mess.
But if we are correct about the prospects for the UK economy – years of stagnation or decline – then the cuts will be on a massive scale year after year with the dire social consequences that will bring for the majority of the working class.
These cuts will affect central and local spending. Local spending by councils is financed by a block grant from central government making up about 75% of the local budget – the rest comes from council tax. Similarly the Scottish government receives a block payment from central government to finance services such as heath and education. The SNP minority government are in effect administering the cuts from London whether Tory or Labour. They have made matters worse for local councils by freezing council tax and refusing to implement a progressive local or national income tax. Even if such a proposal was defeated by the other parties in Holyrood it would have the effect of galvanising a campaign amongst Scottish voters for a commitment for such future tax changes from the next Holyrood election. It would also have strengthened the argument for independence for Scotland.
But the SNP did not want to rock capitalism’s boat and instead be quite happy to implement the cuts and makes some noises that it is all London’s fault.
There is an alternative to the bank bailouts and cuts.
• take all the banks under full ownership and control turning their toxic loans into social rents and social projects and cancelling their destructive derivative contracts;
• a redistributive tax – a one off greed tax would repair the damage already done to our public services and a permanent progressive tax could generate an extra 33% to the total Scottish budget; and
• scrap the expenditure on nuclear weapons, withdraw from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and reduce our armed forces to one for defence not invasion.
This is the alternative the Scottish Socialist Party is fighting for in the Glasgow North-East by election and the forthcoming UK and Scottish elections. It is the rationale alternatives to what the major parties are offering us - that we pay for their crisis. It is the start of the building of a society that operates in the interests of the majority instead of the few.
Royal Mail workers have voted by a record-breaking majority to take national strike action against the concerted assault on their jobs, pay, workloads, the service they deliver to the public – and the attempts to smash the Communication Workers’ Union as a national union.
They voted by over 3:1 for national strikes – a 76.24 per cent YES vote in an extremely high turnout of 67 per cent. 61,623 voted YES, 19,207 NO.
This is a mass rejection of the bully-boy rule of Royal Mail bosses – egged on in their reign of terror by the job-cutting, privatising New Labour government, headed up in their crusade against CWU members by Lord Mandelson.
It is a mass mandate for effective, united and immediate strike action, at a time of year when the volume of mail rockets, workloads rise, and the value of our posties is even more recognised by the public.
Royal Mail spin-doctors are trying to whip up public fury at these workers daring to ‘disrupt Christmas’ – the same bosses who have ‘disrupted’ the lives of 60,000 workers (and their families) who have lost their jobs with Royal Mail in the last 5 years.
Willie Marshall, secretary of the Scotland no2 branch of the CWU, told me what he thinks of the vote.
“This is a bigger majority even than the 74 per cent YES vote in 2007, the last time we had a national strike. I wasn’t surprised at the massive turnout, when you look at the level of anger amongst members.
It proves members are ready for the fight. And this is not about pay; it’s about the survival of Royal Mail.
Members want the strike action within 7 days after the national meeting of regional secretaries and divisional reps on 12th October. We want the action as soon as possible, and for at least the first strikes to involve the entire workforce, all out together, to show our unity and solidarity.”
Members of the Scottish Socialist Party inside the CWU played their full part in winning this landslide for unified national strike action. The SSP does not hesitate in giving full-blooded support to CWU members forced to strike against the decimation of jobs, public services, pay, pensions and union rights. We will do all we can to build public support for their strike action, until they win a decent deal that defends jobs, services, conditions and workplace rights.
And we will do what we can to press the leadership of UNITE to call on their members not to be used as organised scabs during strikes.
Royal Mail managers used to be in a union called CMA, which has now merged into UNITE. Top dogs in Royal Mail have prayed in vain for a NO vote, or at least a poor turnout in the strike ballot, but lost no time in organising for managers to be deployed as scabs to sustain the pretence of a postal service just in case CWU members had the audacity to vote YES!
They have regularly jetted managers into local offices on strike, usually taking care to deploy them from far-flung places, to reduce the likelihood of them taking sympathy action with CWU members they already know.
Willie Marshall commented to me, “The excuse they used for doing striking CWU members’ work during local strikes is that nobody informed them! That is nonsense, but they can’t use that excuse this time.”
Leaders of UNITE should instruct their members to do their normal duties, not other people’s jobs, and start a campaign for a strike ballot of their own members in Royal Mail – many of whose jobs are also on an extremely shaky nail.
The national CWU leadership have been handed a massive mandate to forge ahead with national strikes, to keep up the momentum, and they should immediately approach UNITE to organise solidarity with their battle for the survival of Royal Mail as a public service – rather than stand silent as UNITE members are organised by top management as a battalion of scabs.
Stand by your posties – victory to the CWU!
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
In view of the “consultation” on Schools, and taking into consideration the issues raised by the undemocratic and extremely flawed process in Glasgow (see HERE ), East Dunbartonshire Council need to take into consideration a number of points to ensure children have the best educational experience possible. Campsie Branch SSP have, with the consultation of members involved in Education, written this document.
Considerations for East Dunbartonshire Council and it’s current Education policy:
- The rising population in the country, and indeed the rising birthrate in East Dunbartonshire.
- The impact of closures on Class size. The need for larger classrooms, more “schooling space” – ie. indoors and outdoors and smaller class sizes.
- The impact on special needs pupils if forced out of building.
- The impact on mainstream children’s mental health after separation from their peers and established community.
- The financial cost of refurbishment/clustering/ sharing resources rather than closure/ building schools with larger populations.
- The community cost of closure.
- The impact on parents/children regarding childcare.
- The impact on implementation of the New Curriculum for Excellence.
- The impact on children’s journey to schools. Child safety – children should not have to walk/travel far to school. This also affects children’s health, and road safety as those who have cars will tend to drive them.
- The impact on education workers. The diabolical numbers of newly qualified teachers in East Dunbartonshire, and indeed across Scotland, without work. The numbers of other educational workers who will lose work due to closures.
- The impact on receiving schools ability to ensure “McCrone” can be properly operated.
- The impact of the flawed consultations and subsequent 22 closures in Glasgow has already been proven to be catastrophic.
There is at present a real dichotomy in Scotland between the new skills based practices needed and being highlighted by progressive educationalists through publication of the New Curricullum for Excellence and the older, outdated, more conservative practices and cheap class environments wanted by those who want our children to behave like profitable products. Education is a public service – a right, not a market or a business. It should be run according to the needs of the children, not on the basis of how much profit can be made.
The newly built “cost effective”, privately funded classrooms built to minimum standards do not allow movement in the way the Scottish New Curriculum for Excellence calls for. Children in large classes are more likely to spend most of their day sitting at a desk for four hours – or more - of their six hour school day. Crowd control becomes the onus of the schools staff, rather than the children’s learning experience.
The present Government are creating a three tier system – private schools for those who can afford it; and a two streamed system based on the results of outdated tests and teaching practices and financial ability to move schools. Our present strained system and the financial plundering of education, instead of challenging an unequal society, reproduces it, benefiting those pupils and students from well-off families who can push to have their children moved to more “desirable” seemingly competitive schools, and who can then drive their children to these schools far from their homes. Choice is only available to families with the least constraints on their time and finances. This fails to meet the needs of most children in Scotland, especially those from working class families, single parent families and minority ethnic groups.
Competition and Crowd Control
Children, in the present system, learn to step on each other to “win” and come first, and also learn under these cramped, and therefore necessarily regimented crowded spaces, that their opinion is “unnecessary”. In a competitive learning system, there can only be one winner - and the rest of the children are "losers". There are other ways to encourage learning/ life long learning. Schools should be encouraging discussion, debate, critical thinking and peer to peer teaching. Cramped schools, isolated from the communities they serve, do not promote this at all.
New Curricullum for Excellence
If properly implemented, The New Curriculum for Excellence allows teachers to introduce proven, up to date educational methods that raise the attainment of children across the board – ie, those of “emulation” and democratic class and school methods – and these are most effective in smaller class sizes and in classes with less groups. The Government has cut funding for schools with special needs and for children who need help beyond a traditional classroom, but at the same time justify this by calling for “integration” etc. In the competitive classroom practises advocated by successive neo-liberal administrations, this is extremely alienating for huge numbers of disadvantaged, working class children. New, “emulation techniques,” rather than encouraging detrimental competition between individuals, ensures children as well as teachers, learn to pass on skills to their peers. A competitive system creates children who think, “I did better than you… I am better than you,” whereas an emulation system creates children who think, “I know something you may not. Passing my knowledge and skills to you improve the class group/community/society.”
The New Curricullum, regardless of the method of implementation advocated by the teacher/learning establishment/ local authority is extremely difficult to implement in an atmosphere of control/ in a place with little democracy/ in a place far removed from their community and in buildings built only to the minimum specifications in order for the private building company to make the biggest possible profit. Context in education is paramount. Children need friendly, welcoming, local schools with the maximum amount of adults per child possible (20 or less per adult). School closures negate all attempts to implement the very essence of the New Curricullum - democracy in education... and the active, spacious classroom needed in order to do so. Current policy in re-builds delivers the minimum specification possible in order to ensure profits for the corporations.
HMIE have called for more outdoors teaching – this, for any one adult, becomes difficult with class sizes over 20. It is a dichotomy to call for one thing, but make it near to impossible to implement. Smaller class sizes, plus close-to-home local schools where parents can help out etc can ensure a better learning experience.
Research on lower Primary Years (P1-3) published in 2003 gives us much more to think of (while being told that because of our tax money being frittered on Bankers debts we must tighten our belts):
http://www.classsizeresearch.org.uk/results1.html (Department of Psychology and Human Development at the Institute of Education, University of London, UK.)
In the later Primary years (P4-7), large class sizes meant that, according to this research, “Pupils eligible for free school meals were found to make less progress than those not eligible in both literacy and maths during these years. These pupils were also behind in Key Stage 1 (nursery – P3), and fell still further behind during the later years. Pupils with special educational needs were found to make less progress in both maths and literacy. Girls were found to make more progress in attainment in literacy, whilst conversely boys were found to make more progress in maths.”
The research goes on to say, “Class size effects on classroom processes are not singular but multiple. As the size of the class increases, size and/or number of groups increases, and the management of groups, both in terms of size and number, becomes ever more crucial.
Perhaps the clearest effects of class size were on teaching. Pupils in smaller classes were more likely to be the focus of a teacher’s attention and experience more teaching overall in mathematics, while in larger classes pupils were more likely to be one of the crowd. Many teachers worry that in large classes they cannot meet the needs of all the children in their class.”
Large class sizes are detrimental to our children – and school closures rather than reinvestment in some of the smaller country and urban community schools, ensure our children struggle and have an unhappy school life isolated from their community. Current practise in replacing smaller schools with privately funded super-schools impair implementation of the New Curriculum for Excellence, so disadvantaging our children. The marketisation of Education has disadvantaged many low and middle income families.
read Rich Venton on "Twenty's Plenty in any class!"
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
Monday, 21 September 2009
by Richie Venton - 21st September 2009Royal Mail workers are currently balloting for a national strike, after several months of local and regional stoppages, both officially balloted-for actions and ‘unofficial’ walkouts.
Full article HERE
Quite symbolic really as the Government look for further cuts...
We have paid for this crisis with OUR tax money to plug the hole left by greedy bankers. We are paying through job losses; wage freezes and low pay.
Our children are also being made to pay.
Sunday, 20 September 2009
Ron is a tireless campaigner for socialism and against war and the weapons of war.
"All politicians want to be seen as fighting for peoples jobs but the mainstream parties, including the S.N.P., have accepted the primacy of market capitalism with its drive for profit. The market capitalists, or as Iain MacWhirter (Glasgow Herald) called them kleptocracy, plan to turn the public sector over to private enterprise, the very people responsible for the recession. The situation may be bad but its going to get worse. It won’t be helped by cuts, cuts and more cuts, as called for by the mainstream politicians. There are some cuts that would be entirely beneficial – cut the arms budget and the spending on wars; cut the spending on Trident; cut the bonuses and financial perks being paid to financiers and bankers.
However we must defend public spending on things that matter to most people – health, education, housing, social services, pensions, benefits and transport in order to protect living standards. Frank Dobson MP recently made the point that the policy of cuts with its attendant increase in unemployment, actually costs us more than it saves, with every jobless person costing the state £12,000 per year. Maintaining spending in essential public services not only saves jobs but boosts the entire economy.
Basic services are traditionally paid for by taxation. Many problems could be solved by a progressive tax policy – the rich being made to make a much greater contribution with the numerous loopholes closed."
Friday, 18 September 2009
Richie Venton speaks about how the bosses are piling their debt blackhole onto the workers and how they are saving their millions by casting workers into the misery of long working hours, low pay and ultimately, unemployment.
Richie elaborates in these articles HERE and HERE
Wednesday, 16 September 2009
In the first video, Brian Pollitt, drawing on experience inside Cuba and involvement in academic study of the Americas over the past 50 years, speaks about the challenges and successes of the Cuban Revolution. Brian is an SSP member and Secretary of Scottish Medical Aid for Cuba.
Dorothy Sharkey of Scottish Cuba Solidarity on the US. blockade, the Miami 5 and Solidarity Brigades. More information HERE
Kevin Carroll, from the Scottish Socialist Party and Scottish Cuba Solidarity, explains how he became interested in, and describes some of his visits to, Cuba.
Brian on Cuba HERE
Brian on "Che, the People's Revolutionary" HERE
Article on Che HERE Brian Pollitt comments on it:
It is acutely frustrating to read Che's concluding thoughts which are quoted so approvingly:
"...the plan as an economic decision by the masses, conscious of the peoples' interests.... The masses must decide which share of production will be assigned respectively to accumulation and consumption. Economic technique must operate within the limits of this information and the consciousness of the masses must ensure its implementation."
As an implicit critique of the "top down" Soviet model of planning this sounds all very well. But the Soviets, the Chinese and the Cubans all claimed to have a "top-down-top" planning system whereby the planners framed a draft plan which was taken down to "the masses" via the Party and in discussion with the Trade Unions, and then, accompanied by their critique, went back up again to be reformulated by the central planners. Whether and how this happened in practice is quite another matter but the difficulty with Che's formulations is that absolutely nothing concrete is said about how "the masses" make their wishes known; through what organised and representative fora do they make their decisions on accumulation versus consumption in the plan; and how does the masses "consciousness" ensure the implementation of their democratically expressed will? It all sounds fine but doesn't withstand close inspection as to its organisational meaning, does it?
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
The Diageo bosses have booted their workforces at Kilmarnock and Glasgow right in the teeth. These profit-hungry capitalists have spat in the face of mass public opinion – expressed through 20,000 marching in Kilmarnock, and 500,000 email protests to Diageo shareholders – by confirming closure of the 200-year-old plants. And they didn’t even pretend to consult; they announced this on day 71 of a 90-day consultation period.
The Scottish Socialist Party has from day one warned that multi-nationals like Diageo have only one care in the world: profit! They don’t give a toss about chucking 900 workers and their families on the scrapheap, virtually closing down the town of Kilmarnock in the process. And we have equally warned that any belief that such greedy profiteers can be persuaded by arguments into saving the plants was dangerously delusional – that the only language they will listen to is decisive action that wallops their wallets.
With this callous, arrogant announcement that they are forging ahead regardless, the time is rotten ripe for the unions to lead workers in a campaign of industrial action, to hit Diageo’s profit margins.
This could be accompanied by a truly international appeal for a mass consumer boycott, which would potentially have a devastating impact on a company that relies overwhelmingly on overseas markets, and its overseas image.
Already the campaign of protest emails and online petitions has garnered widespread support in the likes of the USA, one of Diageo’s prime markets, and the Teamsters’ Union has offered to support action by UNITE the union.
A tremendous publicity campaign has been conducted over the summer, on the streets, at football matches, and at golf and other sporting events sponsored by the world’s biggest drinks company. But unless the national union leaderships give confidence to workers to hit back with action that damages the production of profits for Paul Walsh and his cronies in the boardroom, there will soon be nothing left to fight back with.
Diageo’s chief executive Paul Walsh has just had another obscene boost to his wealth, at precisely the time he struts the world stage handing out redundancy notices to families who face a future of not knowing where the next meal will come from.
His ‘wage’ actually went down last year compared to 2008 – when he took home £5.1m. That previous income should help cushion him from having to exist on £3.5m in the year up to 30 June 2009 ... the very day before the closure announcements!
That means a ‘salary’ of £67,300 a week! And if that is not vomit-inducing enough, his pension pot more than compensated for the “fall” in salary: it rose by £3.4m to £11.7m during the past year. So if this arrogant prat decides to retire, he stands to draw a pension of £637,000.
Walsh assured the SNP government-led Task Force – in an interview on BBC Scotland – that, “I will be very open-minded when I look at the content” of their alternative business plan. But in real life he didn’t wait even the derisory six days that elapsed between receiving the governments’ proposals and publicly shattering the fate of these workers who have given a lifetime to creating his obnoxious levels of wealth.
Within a couple of hours of declaring his “open mind”, Walsh was in the midst of a conference call to his cohorts in the USA, where he boasted: “A lot of the restructuring we’ve announced over time will help gross margin. They may invoke some letters to our shareholders, as we close plants in Scotland. But it’s the right thing to do for the future, and we have firmly grasped that nettle in order that we do not see gross margin slippage.”.
This arrogant contempt buries all the hopes of the SNP government, Ayrshire and Glasgow councils, and some in the leadership of the unions that – as Alex Salmond put it – “we are looking for something that reconciles Diageo’s financial objectives with Scotland’s social objectives.”
They are irreconcilable! Diageo has just announced another 4 per cent rise in their profits, to £2.6billion. But that is still not enough for these greedy parasites, so they want to cut back from three to two bottling and packaging plants in Scotland, chucking 900 families into despair, to save themselves £42m a year.
And if they get away with this butchery without a real shot being fired, how long will it be before they try to ship whisky across the high seas to be bottled in India or China by slave labour, closer to one of their huge markets?
Whilst the unions need to build members’ confidence for swift industrial action, and appeal for supportive consumer boycotts internationally, the government should drop it’s grovelling pleas for Diageo to accept public money and save maybe half of the 900 jobs; it’s not going to happen! Instead, they should seize the assets that have been built up by two centuries of workers’ skills and labour, supplemented by public subsidies to Diageo in the past, and turn them into public property, sustaining all jobs, embracing the know-how of workers in creating a genuine alternative plan for a publicly-owned drinks and food industry.
The time for action has arrived. Vast public support exists for the Diageo workforce in their plight. That could easily be channelled into a movement to halt the closures, with calls on the governments of Edinburgh and London to step in and bail out these workers, the way they were both so keen to do for the bankers who wrecked the economy in the first place.
Friday, 11 September 2009
One of the most perverse contradictions in a system riddled with cruel absurdities is that of the working week.
Whilst unemployment leaps upwards, with a scourge of redundancies and closures, the length of the working week for vast hordes of workers increases.
Whilst employers lay off workers, cutting their hours and pay, others demand overtime of their workers – and obscene proportions of this is unpaid overtime.
Long Hours Culture
The UK suffers a notorious ‘Long Hours Culture’. And after a few years of decline (in the years 1998-2006), the hours worked is rising rapidly again.
Figures from December 2008 show that full-time workers in the UK put in an average of 42.1 hours a week - although that is acknowledged to be an under-estimate, not including undeclared hours on second jobs.
Beneath this average lies appalling levels of drudgery for a big minority: one in eight works over 48 hours a week!
And for male workers, the figure is 19.7 per cent exceeding the 48 hour week.
Put another way, in Scotland alone, 260,000 workers are on over 48 hours; 3.3 million across the UK. The latter figure is an increase of 180,000 compared with 2007.
A breath-taking 460,000 workers clock up over 60 hours work a week (54,000 of these in Scotland) - leaving little else time for family or social life after travel to work time and sleep is accounted for!
Long hours at work lead to increased illness, including stress.
It also lowers productivity levels, and reduces Health and Safety for the workforce, as tired people are a risk to others as well as themselves in many jobs.
21st Century Drudgery
So why do workers in Scotland and the UK put in such back-breaking, mind-boggling hours at work in the 21st century?
One of the most obvious causes is low hourly rates of pay. This country is one of the lowest-waged economies in the advanced world. Workers are frequently compelled to clock up the hours to get a half-decent income for themselves and their families – through hours that lead to neglect of family life and increased family break-ups.
But there is also a more naked form of exploitation that explains the Long Hours Culture: unpaid overtime. An absolute majority of the workers on long hours get no extra pay for their overtime. Last year, 5.24 million workers in the UK (425,000 in Scotland) worked unpaid overtime, to a total value of £27billion.
That is the highest toll of unpaid labour since records began in 1992.
It is the equivalent of working for absolutely nothing from 1st January to 27th February last year.
It means these workers gave their bosses an average of £5,139 worth of work without getting a single penny in pay.
As socialists as far back as Karl Marx in the 1840s have explained, profit is the unpaid labour of the working class.
Two of the several means by which the capitalist class boost their profits are by intensifying the amount of production a worker provides during the hours of work, and by lengthening the working week.
Certainly in recent decades bosses have extracted more work out of fewer workers as a means of piling up their profits. But the growing trend of unpaid overtime is one of the most glaring forms of profiteering. And it is likely to rise, as the recession bites deeper; fear of being made unemployed gives the employers a powerful weapon to pressure people into unpaid hours of extra work.
All this, whilst the number of people with no hours of work – the unemployed – rockets to levels not seen in years.
And meantime many employers – including in sectors as varied as the car industry, steel, the finance sector – are putting workers on reduced hours with equivalent cuts in pay; prolonged shut-downs with savage pay cuts; ‘sabbaticals’ as an alternative to outright redundancies – all to preserve profit margins at cost to workers’ pay packets.
Open Secret Company Accounts
Instead of feeding the philosophy that there is nothing can be done about all this – and specifically about job losses – it is high time the leaderships of the trade union movement spearheaded an aggressive campaign to ‘cut hours – not jobs’, to ‘cut hours – not pay’.
Every time some employer demands layoffs, redundancies or outright closures, the first demands of the trade union movement and its allies should be for public inspection of all the secret company accounts, to expose where all the profits have gone – and in many cases where all the public grants and subsidies have gone. And this should not just look at the current year’s accounts, where bosses may be able to demonstrate loss-making during the recession – but also the accounts for previous years of piling up profits.
Such an exercise would provide plenty of ammunition to challenge the employers’ ‘justification’ for job losses or closures.
Cut Hours – not Jobs or Pay
But regardless of whether companies and public sector employers are announcing job losses, they should be challenged by a generalised campaign for a shorter working week – without a penny being lost in pay.
As an immediate initial step, the battle-cry for a 35 hour maximum working week across the board, but crucially without loss of earnings, would rally workers and their families around an eminently rational measure in this crazed, profit-motivated system.
Such a shorter working week would vastly reduce stress levels and other illnesses, help improve health and safety at work, and actually boost productivity from less tired, more motivated workers.
It would greatly improve the family and social lives of working people – a real measure to enhance the much talked about ‘work/life balance’.
And crucially, it would create at least a couple of million jobs across the UK!
Challenging the Profit System
The demands to ‘cut hours – not jobs’ and ‘cut hours – not pay’ would of course challenge the central motive of capitalist employers: profit.
They impose long hours; unpaid overtime; pay cuts through prolonged shut-downs and reduced hours; closures and redundancies…. all to secure the maximum profit levels at the expense of workers’ lives being made a misery.
By cutting the working week, but protecting the level of income of workers, a greater share of national wealth would be distributed in wages, a lesser percentage in profit.
This fight to share out the work, without loss of earnings, needs to run in tandem with the campaign for a living minimum wage, a safety net of at least £8 to £9 an hour, based on the formula of two-thirds median male earnings.
Many who work day and night at risk to their own health are on dirt cheap wages – a system encouraged rather than eliminated by the pathetic level of Labour’s current minimum wages.
There are alternatives to long hours of work alongside no work for millions, a rational alternative to the slaughter of jobs in pursuit of profit margins.
The potential power of the unions and the communities they are rooted in needs to be combined with the sharp weapon of fighting demands that would share out the work rather than share out the misery.
Thursday, 10 September 2009
Brian Pollitt, Scottish Cuba Medical Aid
Kath Campbell, Scottish Cuba Solidarity
Kevin Carroll, Scottish Socialist Party
Friday, 4 September 2009
Monday 14th September
Piper Bar, George Street, Glasgow
Speakers: worker from Vestas factory sit-in; Diageo worker; Royal Mail worker; Scottish socialist Youth member; Richie Venton (SSP Union Organiser)
Saturday, 29 August 2009
Scottish Socialist Party on 50th Anniversary of the Cuban Revolution HERE
Details of the Saturday 12 Sept discussion HERE
Friday, 28 August 2009
Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to conduct a public investigation into the impact the proposed closures of schools and nurseries by local authorities has on education policies, class sizes, childrens health and safety, social inclusion, jobs, and whether the process of consulting with parents and wider communities on the provision of education complies with local authorities statutory duties and democratic principles.
Wednesday, 26 August 2009
Friday, 21 August 2009
SAVE OUR SCHOOLS CAMPAIGNERS CELEBRATE RESIGNATION OF EDUCATION CHIEF MARGARET DORAN
The Glasgow Save Our Schools Campaign, which led the mass movement against school and nursery closures since January, is delighted at the resignation of Margaret Dorarn, chief education officer for the Labour council, given her central role in the closures.
Richie Venton, Glasgow Save Our Schools Campaign organiser, today said:
“The resignation of Margaret Doran from her £120,000-a-year job is a victory for those of us who fought the vicious closures of primaries and nurseries that she was at the heart of.
“The parents, carers and communities of 2,000 children who have been uprooted and dumped in bigger classes, further from home, will have a very simple response to Ms Doran’s departure: ‘good riddance to bad rubbish!’.
“The statement announcing her decision talks of ‘financial challenges facing the council’. Are the thieves falling out?
“Margaret Doran was a critical player in drafting the butchery of our kids’ education and community facilities – but under orders from the Chief Axe-man himself, Labour Council leader Stephen Purcell.
“Far from hinting at any disagreement with the elected Labour politicians’ closures package, Ms Doran was a strident advocate and defender of them. But the ferocious opposition of parents, carers and communities, led by the Glasgow Save Our Schools Campaign, undoubtedly caused private divisions amongst council leaders and officers on how best to cope with the public fury.
“So when Labour councillors sing hymns of praise for her ‘leaving a tremendous legacy’ for Glasgow kids’ education, it’s enough to make you vomit.
"Her ‘legacy’ includes chaos in the first week of school term, with kids packed into far bigger classes, many of them travelling dangerous and long routes, some teaching staff only hearing where they were to work a day before the new term started, and many parents facing loss of their jobs because they can’t juggle between childcare arrangements and working times.
“We celebrate the departure of one butcher of kids’ education – the unelected £120,000-a-year bureaucrat – but intend to work for the removal of the bigger butchers – the Labour councillors who rode roughshod over people’s needs and wishes.”
For more info contact Richie Venton on 07828 278 093 or email email@example.com
Sunday, 16 August 2009
Is The Crisis Over?
Over the last two weeks there has been lots of telling economic and financial data from which some commentators have drawn the conclusion that the worst of the economic and financial crisis is over. We set out here to examine this data and determine if these commentators are right by looking at the banks, stock markets, the Bank of England and global economies.
The four major banks and the wholly state owned Northern Rock reported their results, which were described as mixed, during the business week ending the 7 August 2009. We show these in the table below - all the figures are in billions of pounds sterling.
Barclays HSBC Lloyds RBS* Nthn Rock
Pre Tax Profits 3.0 3.5 -4.0 0.2 -0.7
Write-downs -4.6 -9.6 -13.4 -7.5 -0.5
Banking Profits 1.0 4.2 0.0 5.1 0..0
Profits ex 2.0 -0.7 -4.0 -4.9 -0.7
*RBS Suffered a post-tax loss of £1bn
The points of interest are: only Barclays made a profit when investment banking revenues are excluded; and the revenues from investment banking are a one off. Stock markets have rallied by nearly 50% from their March 2009 lows and the price fluctuations – called volatility – of financial assets have fallen making derivatives easier to trade and reducing daily profit and loss moves. In the credit markets the cost of buying insurance against bankruptcy has also fallen. All these factors have combined to create bumper investment banking profits. Normally stock markets would move no more than 10% over such a time span. But as we show later the sharp rally we have just seen is common in stock market crashes. In the past these have proved to be false dawns – often called sucker rallies - with the market falling again to levels below the previous lows.
The write downs in six months are nearly £36 billion. This money was lost as the value of assets the banks hold and loans to individuals and companies were written off. These losses are not paper losses but have to be matched from the banks capital. These are the losses from the banks exposure to the recession. They will continue dripping losses of this magnitude while the recession lasts and house prices continue to drop. If you add a major market fall and an increase in asset volatility, then on top of these losses will be potentially huge daily losses from derivatives – banks globally have a $700 trillion exposure to these assets. Such a scenario would lead to a similar financial meltdown as we experienced September 2008.
Even without a market correction the banks are likely to all return losses in the second half of 2009. The write-downs are probably underestimated as new rules give the banks leeway in accounting for “difficult to value assets”.
The Stock Markets
Stock markets around the world have risen by over 50% (to week ending 7/8/2009) from their low point in March 2009. Stock markets are where companies’ ordinary share capital (shares) is traded. They are usually seen as a leading indicator of what is happing in the economy. So does this rally mean that the worst is over for the economy and the banks in particular?
If one looks at the history of severe economic recessions a pattern emerges: after a sharp fall in share values over several months, shares make a partial recovery in the hope that the worst is over only to be disappointed and fall again to reach new lows.
In the 1930s depression shares fell from a high of 380 on the US Dow Jones Average (DJA) to a first low of 199 over two and a half months only to rise 48% to 294 five months later. This proved to be a false dawn as US credit dried up on the back of its banking crisis driving the world into a deep depression. The DJA then fell 89% from its all time high to a low of 41 two and a quarter years later.
Sounds familiar? This time the DJA took one and a half years from the credit crunch breaking to fall 54% from its pre-crash high. It has since rallied 44% to its close on 7/14/2009 of 9435. In the UK the initial fall was of the same magnitude but the rally less pronounced to 34%.
The rally – known as a sucker bear rally – in shares is as we write (17/8/2009) is running out of steam. We are likely to see a sharp fall in shares as the markets wake up to the effect of the “end of credit”. This will lead to an increase in the price movements of all financial assets and a big rise in financial volatility. The banks who therefore made gains in the first half of 2009 will suffer steep declines in profits as their exposure to $700 trillion worth of derivatives will create huge losses similar to those they experienced in the autumn of 2008.
Governments would then have to again step into bail out the banks but this time their scope for action is limited by the amount they have spent already and the steps they have to take to find the money to pay for it.
The Bank of England
The Bank of England (BOE) has made two important statements over the last two weeks (3/8/2009 to 16/8/2009). The first was on quantitative easing and 2009’s second quarterly report on inflation. These statements revealed more about the state of the economy and the financial system and its future than any vague optimistic comments that have come from government and City’ analysts.
On quantitative easing the announced that they would raise the total pot to £175 billion – an increase of £25 billion of which £125 billion of the original £150 billion has been used already. The new unused total of £50 billion would be put to use over the next few months. The £175billion represents 12% of our economy (gross domestic product - GDP) and together with other bailouts will take the total of our money spent by the government and the BOE on saving the banks to £350 billion or nearly 25% of our GDP.
Quantitative easing is a tool where the BOE of England prints money and buys back with this money government and other debt from Banks, Financial and other institutions. The idea is this will give the financial system money that they will then pump into the economy in the form of mortgages and loans to consumers and buinesses. All the evidence points to this not happening and instead the financial sector is hoarding the money as a buffer against further looses on mortgages, loans and derivatives.
The table below bears this out. It shows, in billions of pounds, the average monthly personal debt for 2006 – the last full year before the credit bubble burst, the average for 2009 and the figures for the latest month where data is available - June 2009.
Loans Secured Consumer Mortgages Re-Mortgages
On Homes Loans
June 2009 0.3 0.1 6.2 4.3
2009 1.0 0.1 4.6 4.1
2006 9.2 1.1 16.0 11.5
One can see the massive fall off in credit from 2006 that has driven the UK economy into recession. In June 2009 only mortgages – which account for bottoming out of houses prices - are significantly above the average for 2009 which is way below 2006’s average. Of the £125bn of quantitative easing only £1.7 bn has found its way into additional credit!
Why then spend another £50 billion on quantitative easing? The answer can be found in quote from BOE governor Mervyn King in an interview on the recent BOE inflation report. He said that the banking sector was still “in a very bad way” and predicted it would take years to “repair balance sheets” and wean the banks off public support.
In other words quantitative easing is nothing but another bank bail out that we will have to pay for through cuts in public services, wages and jobs and higher taxes. As well as quantitative easing the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds TSB/HBOS have insured over £700 billion of their toxic assets – loans and derivatives – with the UK government, This means we will be liable for further losses which are likely to mount in the second half of the year as we pointed above on the section in banks. The future maximum bill we will be presented with and paid for by us through cuts and higher taxes is unknown.
The UK economy and is still in decline only the rate of decline has slowed. Unemploymnet contuses to rise with nearly 20% of 16-24 year olds unemployed. In the US official unemployment has fallen slightly although nearly 250,000 lost their jobs in July. This is mainly because millions have given up looking for work. Those claiming unemployment benefit are 9.4 % of the total US workforce. But the national labour office estimates that nearly 30 million are out of work which is nearly 20% of the national workforce. Consumer confidence continues to fall in the US and inventories of goods are also falling at a rapid rate. This shows that US corporations are unwilling to produce more goods as they no faith that they can be sold. Only government subsidies for the car industry have boosted production slightly.
US corporations’ economic results are only being held up by huge cost cutting programmes. Underlying sales are poor and once the one off effect of cost cutting passes their results will start to deteriorate
Outside of China only France and Germany, in Europe, and Japan have managed to stop the decline in their economies. This is mainly because the French and German governments had to spend less on bank bailouts and were able to put funds into stimulating consumer spending and the infrastructure. These economies had also much smaller level of consumer debt and a smaller housing bubble. But the stimulus is likely to be a one off as European banks losses will increase in the second half of the year as exposure to eastern European and emerging market property loans hit their balance sheets. They also have exposure to derivatives and there are likely to be losses in this area in the second half of 2009 and not the windfall profits that accompanied the stock market rally since March of this year. Outside of Germany and France, economies with a large housing bubble have been hit hard – Spain and Ireland primarily.
The Japanese economy grew 0.9% in the second quarter of 2009 below the median forecast of 1.0%. This ended 15 months of successive contractions with the sharpest in the previous quarter when the economy shrunk nearly 3%. The growth in quarter two was driven by a $2 trillion government stimulus programme and exports. But the financial markets believe the effect of this will be short lived as the stimulus wears off and the global economy continues to shrink in the third quarter of 2009 leading to a decline in exports. On day the figures were announced (17/8/2009) the Japanese stock market dropped 3%.
China though technically not in recession has seen tens of millions of people made unemployed over the last two years. Only a massive stimulus programme driven by the central government has kept its economy afloat. Nearly $3 trillion of new consumer debt has been created in the first half of 2009. But the government are turning this tap off as they see the first signs of a speculative bubble in property and the stock market. Of course this internal stimulus programme does not help the rest of the world’s economy apart for the commodity industries as China is a huge net exporter. And these exports continue to decline as the world’s overall economy continues to shrink.
The global finance system is so contaminated with bad debt and derivatives that we are likely to see years of declining and stagnant economies. Unlike the 1930s the crisis of credit is not a US one but a global one with the banks also geared up to derivatives which can bring the financial system to the point of collapse when the financial markets decline and volatility in financial assets increases as we saw in the Autumn of 2008.
This means governments will have to continue to use our money to bail the system out rather than create jobs and services. The majority of us will pay for these bailouts through public service cuts and tax rises and unemployment.
But there is an alternative which means taking the banks under our control and neutralising their rotting loans and cancelling their destructive derivative contracts. It means a society where resources and wealth are shared to meet human needs. It is the only rationale alternative to the harsh future that capitalism offers us.
Sunday, 2 August 2009
A rash of factory and workplace occupations is spreading across the globe as workers defy the brutal consequences of the recession.
Instead of surrendering to mass redundancies and outright closures – sometimes at a few minutes’ notice, often without even redundancy packages – workers are occupying their workplaces as a central method of struggling for justice.
Every example that wins concessions is boosting the belief of other workforces that there is an alternative to just resigning to the butchery in the boardrooms – that belligerent, militant class action can win at least something where workers have nothing to lose.
VICTORY TO VESTAS
Currently the sit-in at Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight is creating a storm of international publicity and sympathy for the 600 workers who face the dole, at the same time as the Labour government recently pledged to create 400,000 new green jobs over 5 years.
The 25 Vestas workers who have staged this factory occupation, supported by a mass rally outside every night, have shown tremendous courage in the face of numerous separate attempts by the bully-boy, anti-union Vestas bosses to evict them.
They tried to starve them out, blocking food supplies being sent in by supporters. They threatened the sack and removal of redundancy payments from the workers staging the sit-in, to intimidate them. They took out an injunction to gain re-possession of the factory – in order to close it and move production to the USA and China! The RMT took up the workers’ legal defence and won at least a delay in the possession order being issued – primarily because of the visible display of widespread solidarity outside the factory gates every night and on several demonstrations.
The factory was due to close on 31st July – but the seizure of the factory by workers has just won an indefinite extension of that deadline. Vestas had no union recognition. Some workers joined a union and started organizing others. A group of them established a campaign committee and organised the sit-in from 20th July. This bold action won the active support of hundreds others – Vestas workers, other trade unionists, environmentalists, the local community – on an island where there are no other jobs to go to.
Vestas workers have gone further than any of the other recent factory sit-ins in terms of the demands they are making from their ‘campaign headquarters’ inside the factory: “Gordon Brown – Nationalise This!” declared the banner from day one.
A statement from the workers’ occupation declared, “If the government can spend billions bailing out the banks - and even nationalize them - then surely they can do the same at Vestas”.
EVERY VICTORY ENCOURAGES ACTION
As well as organizing solidarity for these heroic fighters for jobs and the protection of the environment, we have a duty to learn from workers’ experiences of sit-ins as a method of struggle, particularly as redundancies and closures sweep the land like a pandemic.
Vestas is only the latest in a series of workplace occupations in the UK. And Thomas Cook workers in Dublin, members of the TSSA union, have just (31st July) occupied in defiance of job losses through closure of 100 offices.
The recent outbreak of factory take-overs in Britain and Ireland began with Waterford Glass workers occupying the plant on 30th January, in opposition to the employers’ announcement of an immediate end to production and 480 job losses.
After 8 weeks’ struggle, they reluctantly accepted a deal that saved 176 of the 480 jobs.
But their example fed the appetite of other workers facing savage closures under brutal terms and conditions. On 31st March, over 600 workers at three Visteon (ex Fords) plants in Belfast, Enfield and Basildon occupied and picketed when they were declared redundant at a few minutes’ notice, without any redundancy pay and with their pensions frozen. A month later, appropriately on May Day, the workers won enhanced redundancy terms, payments in lieu of notice, and holiday pay.
As Kevin Nolan, UNITE union convener at the Enfield factory put it, “People ended up with a year and a half’s worth of salary. That’s a victory when you consider Visteon were hiding behind the recession as a way of completely abandoning all responsibility for 600 UK workers and just dumping them.”
Prior to that high-profile sit-in, a small group of non-unionised workers at Prisme in Dundee occupied their workplace, encouraged by Waterford Glass workers, (who subsequently visited the Dundee sit-in). They had been sacked without notice and without any redundancy pay. Fifty-one days later, the sit-in beat off the redundancies by establishing a cooperative.
VITAL PART OF HISTORY
Workplace occupations are not a new form of struggle, of course, but this new wave of sit-ins follows many years of the method receding into the background.
Italian car workers seized their factories in northern Italy in the 1920s. What were dubbed ‘sit-won strikes’ swept countries like France and the USA in the mid-1930s. Closer to home and to the present, the most famous workplace occupation was the 1971-2 Upper Clyde Shipbuilders (UCS) ‘work-in’ - in reply to the Tory government’s closure of the yards with at least 6,000 redundancies. This triggered a mass movement, saved many of the jobs after the Tories were forced into a U-turn, and was the impetus to at least 200 sit-ins across the UK in the first half of the 1970s.
For a time such audacious actions receded, although Lee Jeans (mostly women) workers in Greenock occupied in 1981; Caterpillar workers in Uddingston in 1986; and Glacier Metal workers in Glasgow won an outright victory after their seven-week occupation in November-December 1996.
Now, as the global capitalist crisis bites, with even more catastrophic closures and cut-backs on jobs looming, this form of struggle could come back into its own.
POWERFUL WEAPONS OF STRUGGLE
Sit-ins are a powerful weapon, paralyzing production; psychologically bringing the battle into the bosses’ ‘own territory’; preventing them from stripping the factory of machinery and equipment that they may want to shift to other production sites, including abroad, in their hunt for subsidies and cheaper labour; preventing bosses from bussing in scabs past picket lines that are hamstrung by anti-union laws and deployment of the police (as seen, for example, at Timex in 1993).
But a sit-in ‘with folded arms’ can still be defeated, or at best win shoddy concessions far short of the potential victories on the agenda if workers’ occupations are accompanied by concerted campaigning outside the sit-in.
When workers facing closures consider a sit-in they should also try to prepare for a campaign of seeking solidarity from fellow workers and local communities – or at least put that into action as soon as they occupy. Such outgoing, concerted campaigning is critical, firstly to help prevent employers evicting them, secondly to enhance the prospects of outright victory for their demands. That was the advice we put into action from day one of the Glacier Metal occupation in 1996. It is clearly what the Vestas workers are ably applying right now.
Touring other workplaces; taking to the streets with leaflets, bucket collections and megaphones to explain the case behind the sit-ins; organizing solidarity mass pickets, rallies and demonstrations – all this and more was done in conquering outright victory for the 1996 Glacier Metal workers sit-in, and is the method being applied at other current occupations to one extent or another.
DEMANDS FROM THE SIT-INS
The other key question that remains is: what do workers demand whilst they occupy their workplace? Of course that depends on what they are fighting against! In the case of Glacier Metal it was mass dismissal of the entire workforce in the drive to smash the union and rip up hard-won conditions. So full re-instatement of every worker, with continuity of terms and conditions, and continued union recognition, were the demands of the sit-in. And that was what was won!
In the case of Visteon, workers occupied to win redundancy payments and protection of their pensions. They won substantial concessions, though they still lost their jobs.
Vestas workers, as stated earlier, have made the most far-reaching demands – and absolutely appropriate ones to the situation, occupying in support of nationalization of the factory. With the need to save jobs and simultaneously save the planet from catastrophic climate change, the best route is public ownership of the UK’s only wind turbine factory, as part of the call for public ownership of the energy industry as a means of democratically planning clean, green energy production.
Most occupations arise from closures or mass redundancies. So defense of every job is the starting point. And instead of pouring a fortune from the public purse down the throats of profiteering bosses who are hell-bent on racing across the globe in pursuit of super-profits, workers and their unions shown champion the demand for public ownership of the assets, under democratic working class control, to sustain jobs.
REVERSE THE TIDE OF CLOSURES
Workplace occupations are not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ method of struggle, applicable on every single occasion. They should not be turned into a fetish. But they are an enormously powerful weapon of struggle that should be utilized far more widely in the teeth of closures and mass redundancies, and in the vast majority of cases have won huge concessions or outright victories. On the other hand, in some conditions, strikes in the face of closures can sometimes allow the employers to just walk away, leaving whole communities wrecked. And in stark contrast to both, appeals to the employers’ good nature to ‘change their minds’ about closures are a pitifully weak response to the boardroom boot-boys, who will only ever ‘change their minds’ when they know the alternative is carnage for their reputation and profit levels.
Many workers will increasingly see they have nothing to lose in the teeth of mass redundancies, and a lot to win by taking up the cudgels. As Visteon’s UNITE convener Kevin Nolan recently told Labour Research magazine, “We just thought: ‘What do we have to lose?’ So we just went for it. If anyone else is in the same position I’d say weigh everything up and if you think there’s a chance of winning something back or improving your situation by occupying the place, then go for it.”
By seizing control of the company assets, including valuable machinery, plus halting production, whilst using the workplace as a huge campaign headquarters, occupations provide workers with an unprecedented platform to take on the bosses who want to heap the crisis they have created on the shoulders of working people.
We have a duty to concretely assist every group of workers who take such action; every victory won is a boost to the generalized struggle to save jobs, not profits, to reverse the tide of closures and cut-backs endured for far too long.
Saturday, 1 August 2009
Sunday, 26 July 2009
Campsie Branch SSP, along with SSP members from across Scotland, joined thousands in a march and rally for Diageo workers fighting to keep their jobs after the company announced 900 job cuts across plants in Scotland including the historic Johnnie Walker packaging plant in Kilmarnock.
Reports from the demonstration on the SSP main website www.scottishsocialistparty.org/
More on the BBC Website HERE
Tuesday, 21 July 2009
Saturday August 1st 2009 10.30am Campsie branch strategy breakfast; Kirkie Puffer; Kirkintilloch
Saturday August 8th 2009 16.30pm Campsie BBQ; Mugdock Park Pond BBQ area (details of transport to follow)
Saturday, 18 July 2009
Below is the latest update about the courageous Wyndford Primary School occupiers (released 13 July by Save Our Schools, Glasgow), plus a message of support recieved from the protestors down in Lewisham Bridge...
WYNDFORD SCHOOL SIT-IN ENDS – BUT THE BATTLE CONTINUES
The group of courageous parents who have occupied Wyndford primary school since Friday 26th June have decided to end their sit-in, but to fight on against the injustices and education cuts by the Glasgow Labour council, more angry and determined than ever.
They left the building in tears – sad to have to leave the building to the tender mercies of the Labour council vandals, angry at what the council is inflicting on their kids and community.
Richie Venton, Glasgow Save Our Schools Campaign organiser, today said:
“The decision by these fearless fighters to leave Wyndford primary came about because the Judicial Review which they had hoped for, on the flaws in the council’s sham consultation, has fallen through – despite the obscene injustices involved.
“They occupied the building to retain it as a school building, to stop the council stripping and demolishing it, whilst lawyers pursued the case of a nursery child’s mother who was never consulted over the closure of Wyndford primary, which her child was meant to go to.
“The legal challenge collapsed on the outrageous grounds that because the city council placed an advert announcing the closure in the Evening Times, that that constituted consultation. This outrage becomes even more obnoxious when it is known that the parent involved has reading difficulties!
“So much for the impartiality of the law; so much for justice for working class people, including those in most need of protection!
“The fearless fighters who staged this sit-in to defend a school from the Labour council vandals deserve the highest public praise and applause.
“And it is even more to their credit that they have pledged to fight on regardless of having to physically withdraw from the school, by helping build support for the Glasgow Save Our Schools Campaign petition to the Scottish parliament on school closures and class sizes, and to continue our battle for classes of 20 or less for all kids.
“One chapter of the struggle has closed; the next one is merely opening!”
Three of those at the heart of the sit-in by a much larger group – Donna, Alison and Nikki – have this to say:
”The reason for us occupying the building has gone, so we are coming out.
“We were proven right to fear that the city council would try to strip the place and put it in the hands of a demolition firm once the school term finished. Within a day of the school year ending they sent 30 vans to uplift equipment and furniture, and the building has been handed over for demolition.
“We occupied it to stop this happening, while we tried to get the legal challenge, the Judicial Review. That has fallen through, so we are ending the sit-in.
“But the fight goes on. It is too late now for our schools, but we will go on to fight for the future.
“We know how scary it is to put our kids into bigger classes. It is ridiculous that classes are getting bigger. It is as if they have decided kids are getting a bit too well educated, so they want to take them down a peg or two.
“The education received by our kids is brilliant compared to when we, the parents, were at school. But now we are going backwards again, with bigger classes, when the government should be taking us forwards, not backwards.
“We have still got the anger – especially towards Steven Purcell and the Labour council. We hate them. We’ll be there to oppose them at every opportunity.
“And we want to thank all the people who have supported us in our fight.”
The Lewisham Bridge message of support can be found HERE
Tuesday, 30 June 2009
Glasgow City Council showed it's bullying side again today when council workers were sent in to "check out a gas leak" and then turned off the water from the part of the building the parents are occupying. The parent occupiers of Wyndford Primary School were adamant that this disgusting bullying would not put them out. One parent told a visiting Campsie SSP member, "they want to starve us out - but we are here to stay!"
Richie Venton, Glasgow Save Our Schools Campaign organiser, spoke to parents inside the sit-in.
Sit-in at Wyndford Primary continues – they need your support.
Parents have occupied Wyndford primary school in Maryhill since Friday 26th June, as the doors were slammed shut by Glasgow Labour council at the end of the school year.
This audacious action has thrown the arrogant council leader, Steven Purcell, who expected all to go quiet over the summer holidays, hoping that by the time of the next council elections in 2012, everyone would have forgotten about their dirty deeds against kids and communities across the city.
The council has made no pretence of negotiations with the sit-in. They have just fired out statements that the sit-in is pointless, the school is shut, end of story.
Yet despite all their arrogant strutting, the same council has thrown sops towards the local community in the form of proposals for a new Family and Recreation Centre, based in the neighbouring school (also shut), St Gregory’s.
This is a crude attempt to buy off the anger in the community, generated by their brutal closures, which leaves the Wyndford estate a desert in terms of facilities. None of this would have happened without the ferocious battle mounted by local people, through the Save Our Schools Campaign. And it is too little, too late.
I spoke to several of the parents staging the occupation, inside the school, about their aims and feelings.
I would appeal to everyone reading their comments below to:
(a) contact them with messages of support on 0778 350 8740
(b) try to visit the sit-in at Glenfinan Drive, near Tescos in Maryhill Rd - if possible with supplies of food and water
(c) build attendance of adults and kids at the sit-in’s Water Festival, Thursday 2nd July at 1pm – in response to the council’s dirty tricks department – who today (Tuesday) cut off drinking water supplies under the disguise of checking an imaginary gas leak.
Bring the kids, bring water pistols, bring supplies.
Tell the Council that the school occupation won’t get dirty like the Glasgow Labour Council!!
WHAT THE OCCUPIERS SAY:
“We want a school in the community. We have nothing. We are waiting for a Judicial Review on the issue of nursery parents not being consulted on the closure of the primary.”
“We don’t WANT a school – we NEED a school in this community!”
“The other schools offered by the council are too far away, along dangerous routes.”
“On 23rd June the council put a proposal to make St Gregory’s primary into a Family Centre, and to turn the existing Recreation Centre into a power station for the Wyndford estate.
So if St Gregory’s is good enough for a Family Centre, it’s good enough for a school. All we are asking for is one school in the estate, we’re not even being greedy, asking to keep both St Gregory’s and Wyndford primary.”
“Family Centres can be built anywhere, so why compromise a school for it? And the Glasgow council are only offering this because right throughout the campaign we shouted that we have nothing, no facilities, from one end of Maryhill to the other.”
“Our fear is that the council want to demolish the school building – possibly to use the ground for a part of the Family and Recreation Centre. CMI, a demolition firm, has already been in twice to inspect the building, for asbestos before demolition. That’s another reason we’re holding the sit-in, to stop demolition.”
“Since we occupied the school last Friday afternoon we’ve not seen the Council. No talks or negotiations. Then today (Tuesday) they sent along a council worker pretending to be looking for a gas leak, cutting off the water to the school. And it seems it’s just the drinking water they’ve cut off. Well that won’t shift us either.
“In reply we are organising a Water Festival on Thursday (2nd July) at 1pm – a bit of fun for the kids, with paddling pools and water pistols. Our message is ‘join us – don’t let the school occupiers become as dirty as Glasgow city council!’”
“The community is still united. St Gregory’s parents have been in to help us occupy Wyndford, and they have helped stage the barricades on the gates to stop the Council getting equipment out of the building.
“On Saturday they sent in 30 vans. They loaded up with school furniture and equipment. But because parents, kids and supporters refused to budge on the gates, we forced them to unload again and have the vans inspected by us before they went away!
“On Monday they sent two vans to pick up the safe and photocopiers, but pickets on the gates appealed to them, sat down on the road, and the drivers turned away empty-handed.”
“We’re appealing for support and supplies – including food and water – from the local community and people from other areas and schools. We’ve had parents and grandparents from as far away as Barmulloch, St Gilbert’s and St Agnes schools here supporting us.”
“As Barmulloch parents we think it is great what Wyndford are doing. We are happy to help in any way we can.”
“We’re not moving until they give us a school; they can turn off whatever they want. Our message to the council is ‘you’ve shut our schools, but we’re still here, we’re still in your face’.”
Monday, 29 June 2009
Saturday, 27 June 2009
Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to conduct a public investigation into the impact the proposed closures of schools and nurseries by local authorities has on education policies, class sizes, childrens health and safety, social inclusion, jobs, and whether the process of consulting with parents and wider communities on the provision of education complies with local authorities statutory duties and democratic principles.
Sign the petition HERE
Friday, 26 June 2009
PRESS RELEASE … for immediate use (26th JUNE)- Latest-
Glasgow Save Our Schools Campaign
PARENTS RE-OCCUPY WYNDFORD PRIMARY IN OPPOSITION TO CLOSURE BY LABOUR COUNCIL
Parents at Wyndford primary school have this afternoon occupied the school in fury at its closure by Glasgow labour council.
Glasgow Save Our Schools Campaign organiser, Richie Venton, today said:
“Parents sacrificed their Easter holidays, occupying the buildings of schools facing closure. The Labour council ignored this community uprising and the mass opposition across the city to their butchery of primaries and nurseries.
“Parents who have re-occupied Wyndford primary as the council slammed the doors shut today are expressing the fury of a community at the damage done to their kids’ education – but also at the Council’s planned demolition of one of the few remaining community facilities in Wyndford.
“This school won numerous awards for high achievement, partly based on smaller class sizes. Now kids are being scattered to the four winds by the heartless Labour axe-wielders, who also hope to bulldoze the building. The parents staging the sit-in against Labour’s vandalism deserve massive public support.”
For more info contact Richie Venton on 07828 278 093 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or Nikki Rathmill 07894123721
Thursday, 25 June 2009
The Campsie Branch of the Scottish Socialist Party, which covers Bearsden and Milngavie, shares many of the concerns expressed by kwag concerning the plans of Cala/Stewart Milne for the construction of 550 houses on the Kilmardinny/West Park development.
The doubtful future of an adequate replacement for the Allander Sports Centre, the lack of clarity on and the absence of finance for the proposed rail halt, the lack of space for retail construction, serious doubts on building on a functional floodplain and the moving of the West of Scotland rugby ground are all matters which make the Government Reporter's approval of the development surprising, to put it mildly.
Little attention has been paid, however, to the vague undertaking to provide affordable housing.
The question, of course, is affordable to whom? More often than not, promises to provide affordable housing mean nothing to those on modest incomes and, given the total lack of precision in Cala/Stewart Milne's plans, the assumption must be that the housing will be aimed at those with deep pockets.
What is really needed, of course, is a real mix of publicly-owned social housing, and this is not in the interest of private developers to provide. The approved proposals are geared entirely towards the profits of the developers and though the equivocal position of our bizarre Tory/Labour Council should not surprise anyone, it is to be hoped that the public outrage which is being expressed might stiffen the resolve of our Council to forcefully lend their weight,unlikely as this seems, to ensure that the development as it stands does not go ahead.
Click on Photo to go to the KWAG site for more information and to sign the petition...