Tuesday, 28 February 2012


By Richie Venton, SSP national workplace organiser
22 Feb 2012

The fight to protect public sector pensions is far from over, despite the scandalous capitulation by leaders of the TUC, UNISON, GMB and some other unions.
Unions organising over a million workers are currently consulting and balloting members for united industrial action, including a one- day stoppage on 28 March. These include PCS (civil service), EIS, UCU and NUT (teachers), UNITE (NHS, civil service and local government) and the FBU (firefighters).
Although not the same massive force as those who massed the picket lines and streets on November 30, this constitutes a substantially bigger united strike than that of last June, which helped to drag the likes of UNISON and GMB leaders into calling united action on N30. It would pound the government on the eve of pension contribution increases that start this April, and would boost the efforts of the best activists in UNISON and GMB to salvage the situation in their own unions from the shameful surrender by the right-wing and fake-radical 'leaders' they are currently saddled with.
The government's plans still mean a three-headed monster attacking millions of workers, who will have to pay more, for far longer, to get far less on retirement. All because the Westminster Coalition wants to levy a double taxation on public sector workers, asking in billions more to fill some of the hole creat by the 2008 bankers' bailout; not one penny of the increased workers' pension contributions will go to improve or fund their pension schemes!
Unity in action is the best weapon against Cameron and Clegg's pension robbers - and against an SNP government that has merely delayed the misery of increased contributions for council workers, not even that for the rest of Scotland's 600,000 public sector workers, and which has no control over the delayed retirement age nor the 20 per cent pension cut through switching inflation indexation from RPI to CPI.
SSP members in these unions are joining with other trade unionists in vigorous efforts to win sweeping majorities in consultative ballots for united strike action on 28 March, as a way to rejuvenate this critical struggle over workers' incomes and deferred wages.

I spoke to a few of them on why they are campaigning for a huge strike that day.

"Despite everything the ConDems have said about the cuts saving the economy, the cuts in our public sector jobs and services have made things worse.
We now stand on the edge. Do we allow the government to tear down what has been built by generations of workers and face an uncertain future without these services, or do we defend our jobs, services and in fact our future?
We do not have the luxury of deciding whether or not we can take strike action. It is the only way to make a stand against the ruin the government is bringing on the people in this country."

"Whilst the situation in local government remains unclear, the opportunity to resist the ongoing attack on our pensions alongside other public sector workers should be seized.
At the very least, UNISON branches can express solidarity to those on strike by sending delegations to demonstrations on 28 March."
COLIN TURBETT, chair, North Ayrshire UNISON (personal capacity)

"November 30 was the first time Scottish teachers had struck in over a quarter of a century and the strike was virtually 100 per cent solid.
This shows the iron determination to fight to defend our pensions.
Quite simply, we can't afford not to strike, for the sake of our profession and the children we teach."

"Civil servants have already suffered years of pay restraint. The ConDem millionaire Coalition want to pass on another two years of pay increases limited to one per cent. They want pay cuts to be a fact of public sector life for years to come.
My members cannot afford this. When you factor in the planned increases in pension contributions, where they pay more and get less in return, it's totally unacceptable. We simply have to fight back!"

Sunday, 26 February 2012

New Progressive Book club in East Dunbartonshire

Some Campsie Branch members attended the first meeting of the Well Red Book club in Kirkintilloch last week. Details on the book club blog HERE

Scottish Independence - the Chelsea set accuse Scotland of "Munching through taxes like deep-fried Mars-bars..."

In reaction to this article in the "Kensington and Chelsea Today" newspaper, Dave Coull wrote the following response on Facebook. With his kind permission, I reproduce this below.

 "Some towns got big because they produced something. For instance, Bradford's textile mills, Stoke-on-Trent's potteries, Birmingham's engineering workshops, Sheffield's fine quality steel products, Glasgow's shipbuilding, and so on. Other towns got big because the king was there. London is a town that got big because the king was there.

By the beginning of modern times London was already big. The formation of the United Kingdom made it even bigger. Precisely BECAUSE it was the centre of government, it became the "centre" of the biggest free trade area in all of Europe, and the capital of the most highly centralised state in all of Europe. The growth of the British Empire made it also the centre of government of the biggest empire on Earth. Even after the Empire became the Commonwealth, London remained the centre of the Sterling area. The centre of the world empire remained a centre of world business out of sheer force of habit, because businessmen for the most part lack the imagination to do things differently.

London remained a centre of world banking, a centre for the offices of multi-national companies, and all of this happened because, to begin with, the king was there. So the government was there. So all the companies who wanted to get contracts from the government were there. This process is continuing to this very day. Many, many billions of pounds of OUR money is being spent on glorifying London still further for the Olympics.

Of course they will try to tell you it is for the benefit of all of us, but the truth is, the Olympics are for the benefit of London. I lived in London for twelve years, working as a bricklayer. That's a useful job, you might think. But what was I building? Sometimes it was office blocks for the millions of pen-pushing bureaucrats. Sometimes it was houses for the millions of pen-pushing bureaucrats. Sometimes it was houses for the people who provided services for the millions of pen-pushing bureaucrats.

Hardly anybody at all in London actually PRODUCES anything at all. They are all there because the government is there. This entire mega city is just one great big pile of bureaucracy. This idiot claims their taxes subsudize us. The truth is, everybody in London is subsidized by the taxes paid by the rest of the UK."

Dave Coull was born in 1941, and left school to start full time work at the age of 15. He worked at many different jobs, always for a weekly wage rather than a salary, and mostly in the building industry, as a bricklayer. Dave has been active in various campaigns but has always avoided joining any political party (unless you count anarchists as a party). While acting as a site steward for building workers in London, Dave was sacked, which led to a (successful) unofficial strike by his fellow workers for his reinstatement. Nowadays Dave has slowed down a bit and tends to feel it’s mostly up to younger folk to carry on the fight.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

False Economy

Although I have issues with the word, "growth" where the economy is concerned, this video tells the truth about who caused the economic crisis - and who is suffering because of it.

Why cuts are the wrong cure from False Economy on Vimeo.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Reform? No - TORY DESTRUCTION morelike!

- from Ron Mackay

I welcome the new Holyrood committee set up to examine UK welfare reform 'destruction' as reported by Robbie Dinwoodie. Unlike Tory Alex Johnstone, I do hope it “drives a wedge between Scotland's two governments. 

The Westminster government, run by millionaires, is out to destroy the welfare state. Whatever their words their actions indicate their aims. Holyrood, on the other hand, “appreciates the severity of the concerns on welfare reform”. 

 Reform implies improvement -  the Tory policies do anything but. Destructive changes would better describe the Westminster policy on welfare.

Thursday, 23 February 2012


No to another lost generation!

By Richie Venton, SSP national workplace organiser

22 February 2012

The Tories are returning to the scene of their many crimes against the working class! Westminster's Butcher-in-Chief, David Cameron, hopes to breeze into Troon on Saturday 24th March to address the Scottish Tory party conference.
Ayrshire has the highest unemployment in jobs-starved Scotland, which makes this Eton boot-boy's visit all the more provocative. Cameron's slaughter of the public sector will add thousands to the queues of misery in this area. And for every civil servant, council worker, NHS worker or teacher who loses their job, at least another private sector worker will be made jobless through the knock-on effect.

Demo against youth unemployment
Ayrshire has already been turned into a desert after numerous multinationals were bribed by grants and government subsidies, only to then 'up sticks' and move to richer pastures and cheaper labour abroad.
Now a whole new generation is being condemned to oblivion by a capitalist system and capitalist government whose only interest is profit, not people.
Scotland is virtually a Tory free zone, and the SSP in Ayrshire and beyond aim to help keep it that way. We are spearheading the buildup of a mass protest against this invasion by an unwanted representative of brutal, red-in-tooth-and-claw capitalism, around the message "Tories out of Scotland - fight the crime of youth unemployment - no to another lost generation".
The STUC has called a demo in Troon against austerity-induced youth unemployment. The SSP is wholeheartedly building this, calling on workers and young people in Ayrshire and Scotland to keep Cameron out, and to demand that everyone over 16 should have the genuine choice of either a decent, well-paid job; proper training with a job at the end; or a living grant to fund further or higher education.

Plague of mass unemployment
Mass unemployment is stalking the country like a plague. Nobody is spared, apart from the capitalist elite who are perpetrating this crime against working class communities.
Over 230,000 Scottish people are officially unemployed, though the true figure is far higher. Of these, an obscene 103,000 are under 24 years old, a terrible indictment of a society with no future.
For everyone directly hit by it, unemployment is a human tragedy. It means eking out an existence on £65 a week, as inflation lets rip, usually spending it all on essentials the first week, begging or borrowing for the second week. If anything worse still, it means a sense of hopelessness and living without purpose, something nobody should be subjected to, whether that be older workers who have contributed to society's productive wealth for decades, or young people stepping out on life's journey.

Free labour in the 'free' marketThe victims of mass unemployment are being used as slave labour by the same government and same capitalist employers whose system creates the jobs wasteland in the first place. Under the coyly-named Mandatory Work Activity, the government's Department for Work & Pension is forcing unemployed people into jobs with multinationals, retail sector giants, and even some 'charitable' employers - but unpaid, apart from their benefits and expenses!
These unemployed people face the choice: work for nothing, or lose your benefits!
The government has so far refused to reveal details for Scotland, but down South the companies exposed for this 21st century slavery include Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's, TK Maxx, Waterstone's, Matalan, Pizza Hut, Poundland, Shelter and Oxfam. The public outrage has forced most of these outfits to withdraw or 'review' their involvement, but there is still a big job to be done, in tandem with unions in retail like USDAW, to oppose this ruthless exploitation, which is also a huge threat to the jobs of the low paid workers these unemployed conscripts could potentially replace.

No excuse for jobs slaughter
And the criminal reality is that there is no excuse for mass unemployment. Plenty of jobs need doing. Kids need smaller classes for a better education, which demands more teachers. Elderly people need expanded care services, which requires trained staff. The burgeoning housing lists cry out for a massive house building programme, to the highest environmental standards, offering the opportunity for thousand of apprenticeships and secure jobs in the construction industry. The SSP's demand for free public transport, to combat poverty, pollution and social isolation, would require thousands of extra jobs as drivers on trains, buses and subways, as well as job expansion in the manufacture of buses, trains, railway networks, ferries. A serious investment programme in publicly owned energy would be another source of sustainable, green jobs that could benefit people and planet alike. And those are just a few illustrations of the much needed, socially useful jobs that could and should be created.

Long hours - and no hours!
In tandem with the jobs that need to be done, there are plenty of potential sources of funding and ways of creating these jobs, if the political will was there, and if we challenged the very foundations of the rotten system of capitalist contradictions.
Whilst 230,000 Scots are officially unemployed, working no hours, 260,000 workers in Scotland are enduring the toil and stress of working over 48 hours a week. And a breathtaking 54,000 Scottish workers are putting in more than 60 hours a week!
Why do workers do such backbreaking hours, with the horrendous consequences to their health, stress levels, family life, health and safety risks at work - and even the damage to the economy that tired and dispirited workers create?
Appallingly low wage levels, clashing with rising prices, are the prime cause of the 'long hours culture'. Added to that is sheer terror at losing your job, having to 'show face' and put in extra hours when it is demanded to suit the business needs of bosses who use the threat of mass unemployment, and the existence of a mass 'reserve army of labour', as a battering ram.
If wages were raised to a decent level, including the national minimum wage being hiked to £9 an hour to match two-thirds of male average earnings, the pressure to work outrageously long hours would be largely eliminated.

Cut hours of work - not jobs or pay!
The fight for a shorter working week is a central demand that the trade unions should champion far more forcefully, in an aggressive a campaign against unemployment, in favour of jobs for all.
But in doing so, why should workers pay for the crisis created by the capitalists, bankers and billionaires? Why should workers suffer even a penny cut in pay with the introduction of a maximum 35 hour working week, as a first step towards the goal of a 4-day week? The unions and their allies should fight around slogans like "cut hours - not jobs or pay", "for a 35 hour week with no loss of pay".
Given the growing trend towards long hours of toil alongside mass unemployment, well over two million full-time jobs could be created by this one measure; around 200,000 in Scotland - enough to eliminate current unemployment.

Jobs, not profit
But of course this flies at the heart of the capitalist system: profit! Demanding shorter hours with no loss of earnings, as a way to share out the work and enhance everyone's life, challenges the whole idea of production for profit for the few, which is why the capitalist exploiters will have to be defeated and replaced with a system of democratic public ownership and control of the major economic sectors.

Unpaid overtime: start being paid on 24 February!
There is also a more naked form of exploitation, mostly caused by bosses using the weapon of mass unemployment as a threat to employed workers - but which adds to that very unemployment: unpaid overtime.
How do you fancy working your full hours, from 1st January to 24th February this year, before you get a penny in pay?!  This is no fantasy nightmare; it is the reality, the average, concrete consequence of the two billion hours of unpaid overtime worked last year.
Over one in five workers across the nation felt bullied and terrified into giving this free labour to their employer, 'donating' £29.2billion worth of free work in 2011. That is an average of £5,300 each lost in wages.
And the two billion hours worked were the equivalent of a million full-time jobs across the UK, about 100,000 in Scotland, which in one fell swoop would mop up all the unemployed young people languishing on Scotland's unemployed registers.

Tax the rich to create jobs
The SSP unashamedly campaigns to tax the rich, as another central means of creating well-paid jobs for all, as well as funding decent public services. To take one simple example: the richest 1,000 fat cats last year enjoyed a combined income of £350billion. A modest 10 per cent wealth tax on their ill-gotten gains would rake in £35bn, enough to fund 1.4 million new jobs with an annual wage of £25,000. Scotland's share of that would be about 140,000 new jobs, with decent pay, and increased spending power that would create even more jobs and boost local communities.

Fight for decent jobs for all
Nobody should believe the dirty lie that there is no alternative to mass unemployment. It is not a divine creation, but the product of a profit-crazed, grotesquely contradictory system known as capitalism - and the result of conscious political decisions by politicians who support and uphold the system of capitalist profiteering.
Join the protest against cuts and youth unemployment in Troon on Saturday 24th March. Keep the Tories out of Scotland. And join the SSP in a campaign for socialist measures that would create millions of secure jobs, give young people a future, and improve the lifestyles and well-being of all workers.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Owen Jones...

...was on BBC Question Time tonight. He played a blinder (except perhaps for his views on independence). This is a video we made of him speaking at the Free Hetherington last summer.

Saturday, 11 February 2012


by Richie Venton, SSP national workplace organiser

7 February 2012 Working people and their families face the worst assaults on their rights and conditions in generations, and the leaders of the multi-millioned trade unions need to rise to the challenge and defeat the Tories, if they are not to allow a lost generation. Young people, the disabled and women workers are amongst the hardest hit, but nobody is exempt, except the obscenely overpaid top company executives. Over a million young people are unemployed in the UK, 250,000 of them for over a year. In Scotland 230,000 people are jobless, a third of a them aged under 24. A recent Commission on youth unemployment calculated that the long term impact on young people includes a loss of £2,000 to £3,000 a year after they reach the age of 25, even if they manage to then get a job.

  Parasite capitalism

 The destruction of the manufacturing base of the country from the days of Thatcher in the 1970s; the turn to service sector and finance as the main source of profit; and the complete dominance of the monetarist razor gang in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank have all piled on the misery and destitution for a whole generation. School leavers now usually face a choice of low-paid or even unpaid work experience; insecure 'precarious' jobs; pressure to take on voluntary work on pain of loss of benefits; or shoddy training schemes. Even University places are shrinking, with a massive drop in applications recently reported, through a combination of rocketing fees, cuts to student support grants and fear of rising graduate unemployment or underemployment. In the further education colleges, increasingly an escape route from poverty and unemployment for some working class people of all ages, savage cuts threaten to choke off people's chances. Behind the noisy battle between the SNP government and the imperialist arrogance of Cameron & Co, the SNP quietly slashed student support grants by over 10 per cent, from £95.6m to £84.2m. And that is on top of about £54m being hacked off FE college funding.

Cameron out of Scotland!

 When Cameron breezes into Scotland on 24 March to address Scottish Tory Party conference in Troon, he should face a furious demo against youth unemployment, cuts to education and cuts in general. The unions need to make a massive event against the Westminster butcher. They should likewise mount pressure on the SNP government to stand up for Scotland's future in terms of jobs, education, and housing (which they have cut by an appalling £150m, or 40 per cent, despite 120,000 Scots languishing on the housing waiting lists), as well as on the constitutional issue.

  Recession an excuse to attack workers

 As the recent survey by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) confirms, employers are using the recession as a golden opportunity to hammer workers' rights, wages and conditions. Over the past two years CAS has dealt with 107,000 cases of unfair treatment at work - and that is only the tip of the iceberg. Tens of thousands more are afraid to object to pay cuts, withheld wages, longer hours, illegal changes to contracts and victimisation of those who dare to object. As the CAS report comments, often these are low paid and low skilled workers, who do not even know their legal rights. The unions have a massive job to do to organise and defend these vulnerable sections of workers, who are being hammered to pay for the capitalist crisis and the naked greed for profit of those at the top of society.

  Mad-dog Tories on rampage

 Of course the Tory Coalition is egging on all the worst employers to do their damnedest. They are planning further anti-union legislation. An obnoxious cabal of right wingers in the Tory party has launched what is called the Trade Union Reform Campaign. This extremist outfit has been praised in writing by David Cameron. It is chaired by Aidan Burley MP, who was sacked as Transport Minister after it was revealed he had strutted round in a Nazi SS uniform, toasting the Third Reich, with Nazi salutes, at a stag party in France. It's most prominent members include Eric Pickles, local government minister, and the disgraced Liam Fox. At their launch meeting in Westminster they boasted that the government is about to produce a White Paper to slash trade union facility time in the civil service, issue 'helpful guidance' to councils on how best to cut facility time for union reps, and charge unions for deduction of union subs from wages across the public sector.

  Shackling workers' reps

 These creatures of profit and reaction want to outlaw unions, to abolish the ability of elected shop stewards to defend workers from abuse, as highlighted in the CAS report. In doing so, they ignore inconvenient facts, like the report by Hertfordshire University showing that the role of workplace union reps in reducing staff turnover, cutting down on the number of Employment Tribunals and reducing workplace sickness and injuries, saves the economy about £700m a year! Compare that to the paltry sums paid in wages to shop stewards, who in real life invest vast amounts of their own time in defending workers from the unscrupulous attacks that are running riot across workplaces, especially now the employers have the whip of mass unemployment to try and cow workers who live in fear of their jobs. And contrast too, the vast sums of taxpayers' money consumed by the salaries and expenses - legal or otherwise - of MPs and government ministers, who then use hobnail boots to walk all over workers' rights! The bankers, bosses and billionaires rely on capitalist politicians to pass laws that help to shackle workers whilst this class of robbers dip their pockets, with pay cuts, benefit cuts, job losses, grinding more work out of fewer workers, and vast amounts of unpaid overtime, squeezed out of workers through terror tactics, fear of losing their job and family livelihood.

  Wealth transfusion to the rich

 It is no surprise to discover that a new study proves workers today are paid £60billion a year less in real terms than 30 years ago! This shocking revelation goes alongside company executives' pay rising 10 per cent in 2010 and another 17 per cent in 2011- a planet apart from the pay cuts workers have suffered, with economists predicting their wages will not recover their pre-banking crisis value until at least 2020. This appalling transfer of wealth to the rich from the rest of us, from those who actually produce and deliver the goods and services, is causing such widespread fury that the parties of the capitalist elite have to pretend to do something about it - whilst actually making it easier to exploit workers and those on the likes of sickness benefits through their legislative changes.

  Sops and diversions

 The recent hue and cry about stripping Sir Fred Goodwin of his knighthood is cheap diversionary tactics, a tiny sop to the public outcry at greedy bankers. He still has his £650,000 a year pension, on top of the £2.7m lump sum he walked off the job with in the middle of the taxpayers' bailout of the banks. If a worker had wrecked the state of his company (let alone a whole banking system), he would at best have been sent packing without a penny or a reference, and probably jailed. Likewise the headlines greeting Stephen Hester's decision to hand back his £963,000 bonus as head of the RBS diverted many people's gaze from the fact that his fellow executives are to get £425m in bonuses, that Hester himself got a package worth £7.7m last year, and that the Coalition has said they will not 'micro-manage' future RBS bonuses. So they intend it to be 'big business as usual', with a thin smokescreen of one or two high profile 'sacrifices'.

  Stand up and fight!

 Fighting for a reversal of the wealth transfusion from the millions to the millionaires is at the heart of every specific struggle against cuts to pay, jobs, benefits, education and workers' rights. Without powerful union memberships, workers will be left defenceless against ruthless employers out to maximise profit. And unless the unions are seen to stand up on their hind legs for the members they already have, young workers in precarious jobs, or workers of all ages in the least-organised sectors, will see little point in joining the unions.

  Pensions battle continues

 That is one of many reasons why the battle over public sector pensions is of critical importance, to the future of the entire working class. Well over 2 million workers showed their readiness to battle the Westminster pension robbers on the magnificent 30 November strike. To their eternal shame, central leaders of the TUC, UNISON, GMB and other unions caved in to the pre-Xmas offer from the government, despite the latter boasting it still contained every single penny in cuts to pensions that was threatened before the N30 strike. And to their eternal credit, other union leaders - and a vast army of active members who have bombarded their leaderships in protest any dirty betrayal of their pension rights - are standing firm and preparing for further united strike action to try and force the Coalition into retreat.

  United strikes in March

 The national executives of several teachers' unions (NUT, NASUWT, UCU, EIS), the civil service PCS, and UNITE in local government and the NHS have all rejected this shoddy offer, which would still mean workers paying more, retiring older and getting less in their pensions. The PCS, NUT and UCU have called for strike action in March, before some of these attacks take effect in April. In addition, members of the SSP have spearheaded the demand for a recall delegate conference of UNISON branches in local government, to debate and overthrow the attempted sell-out by the union's national figureheads, led by fake-radical Dave Prentis. And UNISON's Scottish NHS committee has thrown out the deal, calling a series of strikes in months to come.

  Put a million on the pickets

A united strike in March - one day or if possible two days - of over one million workers would be a powerful impetus to the resistance to pension cuts, a revival of the flagging momentum, and could help members of UNISON and GMB rescue their own situation from the capitulation by their 'leaders'. SSP members in all the public sector unions will continue to strive for this courageous course of united action, confident in the knowledge that the Coalition is not some all-knowing, all-powerful dictatorship that cannot be beaten. In fact, as several partial retreats and sops to public opinion shows, they are susceptible to the pressure of a mass movement - but only if that opposition goes beyond verbal outbursts into united strikes, demonstrations, peaceful civil disobedience, and a real political challenge too.

  Defy Coalition, Labour and SNP cuts

Labour clearly won't provide that; Miliband & Co have spelt out their support for continued cuts to pay, services, pensions and jobs even if they were elected in 2015. The SNP government has rightly made mincemeat of Cameron's interference in a Scottish referendum, but they have capitulated like wee timorous beasties when it comes to Westminster's cuts, passing on the pain to councils, colleges, the NHS - to workers, students and communities that spurned the Tories by 85 per cent in the last election.

  Give youth a future

 The Scottish Socialist Party stands up for Scotland, for working class people and young people whose future is lost unless we unite and fight back. We demand the choice for all school leavers of a well-paid, secure job, or proper training, or a place in education with a living grant. We demand taxation of the rich and big business, and democratic public ownership, to fund vast investment in jobs, public services and decent pensions and benefits - not a few token nail-clippings from a handful of individual bankers or 'rogue' bosses. It is not just these notorious individuals that need to be tackled: the entire capitalist system of profiteering and exploitation is rotten to the core, with the chasm between rich and poor, the corruption in 'high' places and rule by Old Etonians just as prevalent as in the Victorian times portrayed by the great Charles Dickens.

  Struggle or starve!

Employers and pro-capitalist politicians of numerous party colours are trying to hammer the working class and young people, to grind even bigger profits out of them. In the 1930s, one of the slogans common on banners was 'Struggle or Starve'. That same choice has come back to haunt us in the 21st century. They might be the millionaires, but we are the millions - and united in action with a fighting socialist alternative, we can win. Join the SSP and help to secure a future worth fighting for.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Campsie Burns Night!

Come of the branch got together for a Burns supper.  Ron and Kevin played music and we all sang and recited poetry.  And Politics came up quite a lot!

This is mostly a message to Ann, who went to California!