Whilst support for independence is growing, tensions within the SNP are also becoming more apparent. We’re just over half a year away from Holyrood elections where these increasing pressures will put the relatively stable dominance of the SNP to the test.Continue reading Rifts in the SNP: How should the Left respond?
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has published its annual Poverty in Scotland report on the current state of poverty levels in Scotland, and its findings make for dire reading. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, around a million people in Scotland were in poverty, “living precarious and insecure lives”. That breaks down as 230,000 children, 640,000 working age adults, and 150,000 pensioners.Continue reading Rising Poverty Shames Capitalism
In any country that claims to care about the basic needs of its citizens, and where homelessness and precarious housing is on the rise, providing homes for people ought to be a priority of the Government. This is as true for the Scottish Government as it would be for any other, yet it consistently falls short on its promises.Continue reading Social housing crisis is failure of pro-market policies
Ballot papers are being delivered for the Unison general secretary election. This vote is probably the most important election in the trade union movement for decades. At stake is the future direction of the biggest union in the country – and perhaps most importantly, the key union in the NHS and local government.
For many years, the Unison leadership have sought to solve the problems that members face through a strategy of conciliation with the Tories. The problem with that strategy, however, is that it has led to a continuous erosion of terms and conditions, privatisation, wage freezes, job losses and a decimation of services.
Unison has an enormous potential weight, both industrially and politically. And it plays a decisive role in the public sector.
The union’s members have been fighting a rearguard action for more than ten years now. There have been important local struggles – most recently with the Tower Hamlets dispute. But too often, branches have been left to their own devices.
The practice of the leadership has consistently been to sell the members short.
No more ‘business as usual’
Unison organises hundreds of thousands of members in offices, schools, care homes, hospitals, and council depots. Many of these workers – including an army of homecare workers who support the most vulnerable people in society – are still at work. Unison members have faced the brunt of the pandemic, and have received huge public support for doing so.
Public support for the NHS and for other frontline workers has never been higher. Meanwhile, the Tories have seldom been weaker. They are seen as arrogant, incompetent, and uncaring.
Unison members now face an important choice. Do we continue to try and present a ‘dented shield’, despite so much evidence that this strategy does not work? Or do we fight for a trade union that will stand up for our members, listen to our concerns, and act upon them?
There have probably never been so many threats looming: NHS privatisation; austerity; and the risks in schools, where reckless Tory policy is forcing children, teachers, and support staff into unsafe conditions.
All these threats will impact dramatically on our members. One thing is for certain: ‘business as usual’ is the last thing we need.
It has been very noticeable that all of the Unison general secretary candidates accept that the union needs to change. But what sort of change do we need?
Two of the candidates – Christine McAnea and Roger McKenzie – come from the Unison bureaucracy. On the other hand, there are two lay candidates who both say that they will not accept the full wage that goes with the job.
Paul Holmes is an experienced rank-and-file activist, who is a member of the NEC and a local branch secretary.
The fourth candidate is Hugo Pierre, a member of the Socialist Party. He has been strongly criticised for standing on a blatantly sectarian basis, after participating in the Broad Left hustings to select a single left candidate and losing to Paul Holmes.
Socialist Appeal has argued for many years for the democratisation of the Union. In our opinion, Unison gives lip service to being a ‘lay member led union’. In reality, the structures of the union are not open to the active involvement of the majority of the membership.
We have argued that the role of the leadership should be to support the struggles of the branches; to take a lead at a national level in campaigning and uniting the struggles; and to fight for socialist policies in the labour movement.
We have also argued that trade union leaders and MPs should only take the wages of a skilled worker. The Unison general secretary job, however, attracts a salary of £138,000 per year.
We also stand against opportunism and sectarianism, and against any ‘prestige politics’ in the workers movement.
We are confident that our readers will consider the arguments above and in previous articles about the issues in this election, and about the future direction of the union.
On this basis, we hope that Unison members will vote for the only candidate that can deliver genuine change in the union: Paul Holmes – the members’ candidate.
In line with Unison’s campaigning rules, this article has not been authorised by Paul Holmes and represents the opinion of the Socialist Appeal editorial board.
From Socialist Appeal
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On Monday the 7th and Tuesday the 8th of September, over 200 cleaning workers in Glasgow staged a walkout and gathered for a rally outside the city chambers in George Square. This was in response to Glasgow City Council’s decision to extend their hours. Additionally, workers received letters on the 12th of September stating that 21 hours of pay would be deducted from their wages as a result of the wildcat action.Continue reading Glasgow City cleaning workers walk out
Amid the perpetual media circus surrounding the ongoing public health crisis, it’s clear that conventional domestic politics has taken a backseat status on the agenda. It was therefore to relatively little fanfare that Jackson Carlaw relinquished his position as leader of the Scottish Conservative Party less than six months after officially assuming the role vacated by Ruth Davidson.Continue reading Tories Ditch Carlaw for Douglas Ross
Trade union representative at IKEA Glasgow Richie Venton is fighting for his job and workers’ conditions after being sacked by the firm for advising union members.Continue reading Reinstate Richie Venton! Defend Trade Union Organising at IKEA!
On Saturday the 22nd of August Mercy Baguma was found dead next to her infant son in a Govan flat. The baby was malnourished, half-starved, and his mother had died of starvation after losing her job.Continue reading Death and Tragedy Among Glasgow’s Refugees
The mood amongst ordinary people is rapidly shifting as the Tory government lurches from scandal to crisis. The widening class divide in society is being exposed by events, preparing the way for revolutionary explosions.Continue reading Ruling class in crisis: our modern-day Ancien Régime