Thursday, 18 October 2018

CLASS NOT CREED, 1968...



PLEASE BUY MY NEW PAMPHLET:
Class not Creed, 1968

I've just today published a pamphlet - Class not Creed, 1968 - describing the tumultuous events in my native N Ireland 50 years ago.
It seeks to rescue the truth about the background to the 30-years-long Troubles; the lost opportunity for working class unity and socialism in Ireland, in the mass civil rights movement of 1968-9.
Much is hidden in what passes for the history of Ireland. In particular, the many and heroic episodes of Catholic/Protestant workers' unity in struggle - as opposed to the myth of two irreconcilable tribes that nice British governments are obliged to sort out!!
The events of 50 years ago need to be understood by anyone seeking to help build an alternative to the Orange and Green politicians, 50 years on. This pamphlet provides useful background reading.
Please order your copy today. It's only £2.50 in person - plus 50p towards the cost of postage & packaging.

Order online HERE





Sunday, 7 October 2018

N Ireland Explodes - 50 years ago







Fifty years ago, Northern Ireland exploded. 
On 5 October 1968, about 500 people assembled in Duke Street, in Derry, to march for civil rights, in defiance of a ban imposed by the Unionist government that had ruled the roost since the partition of Ireland in 1921. 
The ensuing brutal police violence that cracked skulls and hospitalised at least 100 protesters was televised across the world. That was the day most commentators designate the start of 'the Troubles'. 
Many myths surround this whole period of history, and many rich lessons for today need to be unearthed. 

This was a period of vast opportunities for working class unity in Ireland - which then turned into the bloody conflict for nearly 30 years, marked by deepened sectarian division and 3,700 deaths. 
But could history have been different? What were the roots of sectarianism? What did the civil rights movement signify and achieve? What role did the trade union and labour movement play 50 years ago? Was workers' unity possible? Why were British troops sent in by a Labour government in August 1969? And have the claims by Sinn Fein today, that they are the modern inheritors of the civil rights struggle of 50 years ago any basis in the historic facts?



We don't study history for the hell of it; we do so to learn from success and failure, in order to apply the lessons to the current world - including Ireland. The biggest crime of much that is written on Irish history is the way it excludes the many glorious displays of workers' unity in struggle. 

Below is the opening section of Chapter 1 of a 110-page book I wrote in 1989, entitled Socialism - not Sectarianism. This chapter deals with the main events of 1968-9. 

If you would like the full chapter (the book is now out of print), please pay a modest £3 via PayPal, to the account with the email address jim.sspfinance@gmail.com 
We will then send you the full Chapter.
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LESSONS OF THE 1968 CIVIL RIGHTS STRUGGLE [Chapter 1 of Socialism - Not Sectarianism]

Twenty years ago, British and Irish capitalism was rocked to its foundations by the social explosions surrounding the civil rights campaign in Northern Ireland.

Mass demonstrations, significant signs of Catholic and Protestant unity, police thuggery, barricades, no-go areas and pogroms against the Catholic minority - were features dominating events from the first big Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) march on 5 October 1968 to the entry of British troops on 14 August 1969.

What were the roots of these social convulsions?


British imperialism mastered the arts of exploitation, bloody suppression of revolts and the cynical use of divide and rule tactics, in its centuries of rule in Ireland. By the early 1900s, it faced its most powerful foe: the young Irish working class, united in movements threatening socialist revolution. Despite the poisons of sectarianism, Catholic and Protestant workers combined against their common enemy in the 1907 Belfast docks strike, led by Jim Larkin, during which Belfast police mutinied. The 1913 eight-month Dublin lockout involved Protestant Belfast workers giving solidarity to Catholic Dublin workers in their showdown with Catholic Dublin bosses. 



Workers unite

Under the shadow of the 1917 Russian revolution, the capitalists faced a mobilized Irish working class in 1918-21. 

In 1919, Belfast engineering workers, whose majority were Protestant, formed a united Protestant-Catholic strike committee, with a Catholic elected as chairman. They led a virtual general strike which involved mass trade union patrols. Belfast was temporarily in the workers' hands, and even the capitalist media were forced to admit 'law and order' was better than when the police were in control.

The 1919 Limerick Soviet involved price controls by the workers' committees and production of their own currency - 'Labour Notes' - distinct from the national currency. 
Arigna miners occupied their pits and forced compensation from the bosses at the end of their action for the improved productivity during the period of workers' control of the mine. 

Creamery workers seized their workplaces, hoisted red flags, and declared on banners "We make cream, not profits". 

Land labourers, road workers and numerous other layers were involved in a wave of strikes, sit-ins and embryonic soviets throughout every corner of Ireland.



This workers' movement was met by military savagery and pogroms against Catholic and Protestant socialists in Belfast. The latter were orchestrated by big business, executed by the UVF thugs, and encouraged by the British Tories. In the period June 1920 to June 1922, a total of 428 died and 1,766 were injured in these pogroms. And 25% of the 9,000 driven from their jobs, in four days in August 1920, were Protestants: trade unionists and socialists, including those involved in the 1919 general strike. 



Partition 

In 1921, British imperialism was guilty of the crime of partition - the culmination of their divide and rule tactics in the face of a workers' movement threatening their power and privileges. Two unviable, poverty-stricken, undemocratic, capitalist statelets were thus born. 

Partition met the naked cash calculations of the capitalist class. It allowed them to maintain the most industrialized region around Belfast, and vital naval bases to help 'Britannia rule the waves'. Above all, it threw back the workers' movement for decades.


However, the capitalists in the South were incapable of developing a healthy, independent economy. Neither tariffs nor free trade could end the miserable conditions that blighted the population. For instance, by 1946, 46% of the population still depended on agriculture for an income! As writer Tim Pat Coogan put it: "Had it not been for the safety valve of emigration (400,000 in round figures 1950-60), the frustration and desperation of these years must have led to mass riots."

Now read on... order the full chapter by paying £3 via PayPal, account jim.sspfinance@gmail.com 

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Labour Conference Adopts a Policy Pioneered by the SSP



Labour Party Conference has adopted a policy pioneered by the SSP!

Hot on the heels of the TUC congress unanimously adopting the pioneering new policy of a guaranteed minimum 16-hour working week - instead of the abomination of zero and short-hours contracts - so too has the Labour Party conference, in a composite Motion on In-Work Poverty, moved by my union Usdaw, seconded by the GMB.
If acted upon, this could be a lifeline to millions of workers subjected to insecure, low-paid jobs, dependency on foodbanks, and mounting mental ill-health.

So it's immensely welcome that the Corbyn-led Labour conference has overwhelmingly agreed a policy pioneered and spearheaded by socialists OUTSIDE Labour - specifically, the SSP!!

To avoid any confusion, here's the timeline:
- in my book, Break the Chains, published in December 2015, I first proposed this new idea of a guaranteed minimum week for all workers who want it; 16 hours, to match criteria for Working Tax Credit, Statutory Sick Pay, and employers' NIC contributions.
- in 2016, this was unanimously agreed as SSP policy, and then fought for on the streets and in our unions.
- in April 2018, I proposed this policy on behalf of Glasgow no 1 Usdaw branch at Usdaw national conference (ADM), winning unanimous support from nearly 1,000 delegates. 
- as a newly elected Usdaw Executive Council member, I combined with others to argue for rapid implementation of the 16-hour policy, in tandem with the 4-year-old policy of a £10 minimum wage (NOT seriously acted upon up until now!).
That included pushing for it to be advanced by Usdaw as policy at the TUC, Labour conferences... and likewise in other parties. 

The result? Usdaw has now launched the major 'Time For Better Pay' campaign, with these demands at its core, winning support at both the TUC and Labour conferences.




HISTORIC VINDICATION!

I can't resist a wry smile at this brilliant news, especially as it comes from Labour's Liverpool-held conference.

Back in 1986, I and eight other socialist leaders in Liverpool were expelled from the Labour party by the insufferable windbag, Neil Kinnock - for the crime of being far too successful at mobilising the Merseyside working class, defeating Maggie Thatcher's Tory government, winning massive concessions in government funding to build council houses and create thousands of jobs. And winning record votes for socialists in Liverpool elections, whilst Kinnock displayed an unrivalled ability to lose elections and leave the Tories in office to assault the working class.

I remember saying at the time that they might succeed in expelling socialists from the Labour party, but they couldn't expel us from the wider labour movement or the working class. It's taken a while, but it's quite gratifying to see that prediction proven.
And it's a perfect 20th birthday present for the SSP; courageous, principled socialists organised OUTSIDE Labour have been instrumental in committing Labour to a policy that could transform many workers' lives - in a fashion Scottish Labour's 'left' never managed to do. 
We now look forward to uniting in action with fellow-trade unionists, both inside and outwith Labour, to force through the implementation of this far-reaching policy, to give workers a bit of security and control over their working lives.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

BUILD ACTION TO END POVERTY PAY & INSECURITY




The British TUC meets in Manchester for its annual congress, 150 years after its founding meeting in the Mechanics Institute of the same city. Much has changed in life since 1868; but much has remained the same, with the fundamentals of class division and capitalist exploitation.


The TUC is potentially a very powerful force for change, but only if it had a leadership determined to challenge the employers and governments in pursuit of the many progressive polices agreed by its annual congress - by mobilizing the 6.3 million workers  organised in the 48 trade unions affiliated to the TUC.  

Reforms and Betrayals 


The trade union movement has been instrumental in winning many vital reforms in living conditions for millions of workers and their families: an end to systematic child labour; improved health and safety; paid holidays; weekends off for some workers; equal pay and minimum wage legislation, etc. 

But every reform won has required mighty struggles. Struggles against the resistance of capitalist employers and their hired governments, but also within the unions, against conservative right wingers and overpaid bureaucrats who've quivered and capitulated at the thought of going into battle with the employers. 

Many momentous events in history have proved the baleful role of the right wing compromisers, and the urgent need for fighting socialist leaderships in the unions, accountable to the members, engaged in mobilising those same members in action for change. 
The TUC's betrayal of the 1926 General Strike; their desertion of the heroic miners' struggle of 1984/5; their exclusion of the RMT from talks with Southern Rail bosses last year in the midst of a ferocious RMT members' strike against Driver Only trains; their failure to lift a finger in pursuit of "a £10 minimum wage for all workers" for the four years since it was passed - unanimously - at the 2014 TUC congress... these are just some harsh reminders of the need to transform the potentially mighty trade union movement into an instrument for change, with a democratic, fighting, socialist leadership at every level. 

Great Jobs Agenda 


A major theme of the 2018 TUC congress is their 'Great Jobs Agenda'. Conference documents carry devastating evidence of the millions suffering jobs that are anything but 'great'. 

Alongside many other policy Motions for investment in skills, sustainable 'green' manufacturing, and public services, one from my own union - Usdaw - calls for a pioneering new policy to replace the rampant job insecurity of zero-hours, short-hours and fixed-term contracts. 
Usdaw's Motion is based on the brand new policy I successfully moved at the union's annual conference in April, on behalf of Glasgow no.1 branch, calling for a ban on all zero-hours contracts, to be replaced by a legally guaranteed minimum 16-hour contract for every worker who wants one, in tandem with an immediate £10-an-hour minimum wage. 

Poverty Pay and Under-Employment 


We're subjected to the hollow Tory and big business boasts of record levels of employment. In reality, low pay, insecure jobs and mass underemployment have side-lined mass unemployment as the biggest sources of punishing poverty for millions in this rich land. 

Wages have been crushed whilst prices rocket; by 2025 the average worker will have lost out on £18,500 in real earnings. (TUC Research). 

Ten years after the financial mayhem triggered by the bankers' greed, real wages are today worth £24-a-week less than in 2008. All the forecasts agree wages won't be restored to 2008 levels - which weren't exactly luxury living! - until after 2025; the longest period of wage decline since the Napoleonic Wars, 200 years ago. 

The government's own DWP admit there are 300,000 more in poverty now than a year ago - and 55% of those are in working families. 


Child Poverty Rising 


The sins of the capitalist profiteers have been visited upon the children! 

Over 3.1 million kids with working parents are below the breadline, here and now in 2018, compared with 2.1 million in the year 2000. And an astonishing two-thirds of all the children living in poverty have one or two parents working. 

Public sector cuts and crucifixion of in-work benefits have been major causes of this catastrophe. But underlying it all is the merciless robbery of wages by the capitalist employers over recent decades, aided by successive Tory AND Labour governments, with anti-union laws their weapon of choice in boosting profits at the expense of wages and public services. 

Nearly one in every eight workers (11.9%) is in some form of insecure job: on zero-hours contracts, agency, casual, seasonal, bogus self-employed, and pitifully short-hours contracts. For instance, all the giant supermarkets offer a minimum weekly contract of a mere 8 hours. 

A full one million part-time workers want a full-time job but can't get one, as employers escalate use of micro-jobs to put workers at their beck and call, dragged in at short notice to do extra hours to match 'business needs', then cast back onto miserably small contract hours when the bosses want to cut their wage bill. No wonder stress is hitting the roof in workplaces; millions have no control over their daily working lives, and just as little control over their income. 





For a 16-Hour Minimum Working Week 


That's a taste of the reasons it's critically important the Usdaw policy Motion - for a guaranteed minimum 16-hour week for all workers who want it - is passed at TUC congress. And not just agreed and then stashed away in a filing cabinet (or its digital equivalent!), but made the active property of every union member in workplaces across the country, with an action plan to fight for it immediately.

This one measure, twinned with an immediate £10 minimum wage for all workers, rising with inflation, would begin to transform the lives of millions - children included. Alongside demands for investment in skills and learning (currently, scandalously, at only half the level of the EU average!); a million 'green' jobs; vast expansion of public sector housing and transport... such a package of radical measures, seriously fought for by the trade union movement, could bring about genuinely 'great jobs'. 

As could a struggle for use of digitalization and robotics to slash the working week without a penny loss of pay - as opposed to the dystopian nightmare of new technology condemning millions of workers to unemployment and destitution. It's a question of who owns and controls the new technologies, as with the wider economy. 

How Can We Win? 


Many workers have already asked me 'How can we get the TUC to act on good policies, like a £10 minimum wage and guaranteed minimum 16-hour week?'

There was nothing pre-ordained about committing the TUC to a £10 minimum wage nor Usdaw to the new policy of a 16-hour minimum working week; they had to be organised and argued for, through union structures, from branch level upwards. That's a start. 

Assuming the TUC, representing 6.3 million trade union members, adopts this policy, trade union activists and socialists have a massive role to play in getting action to implement such life-improving reforms. 

We will need to argue for and organise meetings of union members in branches and workplaces to discuss and popularise the arguments for £10-an-hour and a guaranteed 16-hour week as immediate minimum employment standards - to make union polices the property of thousands of workers. 

That's the best way to light bonfires beneath the backsides of the TUC and national union leaderships, demanding action and resources of them. 

Leaflets and literature arguing these policies should be demanded of the TUC and national unions, to spread the word, involve members on the streets as well as in workplaces, through days of campaign activities. 

An aware union membership is indispensable when union negotiators put these demands to employers - as they should and must, if policies are to mean anything. 

Strike, if Necessary 


Ultimately, unions need to prepare their membership for the possibility of needing to use industrial action to win such reforms. 

It's to their eternal credit that the Bakers' union (BFAWU) have already recruited, organized, balloted and led McDonald's workers out on strike 'for £10 and a union', and are now doing the same with Wetherspoons staff. These are also sectors rotten-ripe for the demand for a 16-hour minimum for all workers who want it. 

Other unions need to implement TUC policies with the same determination. 

Pound the Politicians 


We also have other pressure points that should be pounded with these demands by the unions, in particular local government and the devolved Scottish government. 

In the policy passed unanimously at Usdaw conference, those points are specified, calling for lobbying all these levels of government, demanding they introduce the £10 and 16 hour minimums for all their directly and indirectly employed staff... which amounts to a massive 500,000 workers in Scotland! 

Socialists and trade unionists need to bombard councillors and MSPs - regardless of their party label - with demands that in the forthcoming budget-making process for 2019/20, they set both a £10 minimum wage and guaranteed 16-hour week into No Cuts budgets, and then mobilize workforces and communities in struggle for the funding off Holyrood and Westminster to implement these reforms. 

Many who've joined the SNP and Scottish Labour proclaim themselves socialists. Now is the time for them to make demands on their own councillors and MSPs to stop implementing Tory austerity and start standing up for the working class with concrete, radical reforms like £10 and 16 hours minimum. 

The STUC should take the bold step of organising protest demos demanding this of MSPs and councillors. 




Socialists Fight On! 


The potential power of unified trade union action has all-too-rarely been applied. The crushing poverty and insecurity of millions of workers and their families cries out for such action. 

The SSP will continue to vigorously campaign on these policies, both within our own workplaces and unions, on the streets and in colleges. We appeal to others to join us in that crusade. The combined forces of the trade unions and socialist policies are a force that could change the lives of masses of people. Join that struggle! 





Sunday, 2 September 2018

SPEECH FOR A GUARANTEED MINIMUM 16-HOUR WEEK


As TUC Congress looms...
SPEECH ADVOCATING GUARANTEED MINIMUM 16-HOUR WEEK


The annual congress of the British TUC starts on 9th September, where my own union - Usdaw - will propose not only a £10 minimum wage, but also the pioneering demand for a legally guaranteed minimum contract of 16-hours a week for all workers who want it - instead of the curse of zero hours contracts and rampant under-employment through short hours contracts.
As background - and as information to use in your own union to lobby support for this policy at the TUC - here's (below) the text of the Policy Proposition and the union's official verbatim report of the speech I made at April's Usdaw annual conference, where I proposed this brand new policy of a minimum 16-hour week, except where a worker and his/her union rep negotiates fewer hours. 

I will post a proper article on the TUC and this key issue soon.
Meantime, please help spread the case amongst workers and their unions for a radical alternative to low-paid, insecure jobs.

TEXT OF MY SPEECH AT USDAW Annual Delegate Meeting, April 2018...











Wednesday, 29 August 2018

WE DESERVE BETTER say people in N Ireland


The Portadown #wedeservebetter Rally 

Thousands turned out to protest rallies in 16 towns and cities in N Ireland yesterday, under the banner #wedeservebetter. They crowded into town centres; lined round lough-sides; even rallied on the beaches!

People from both communities combined in anger and frustration towards the elected but absentee politicians who have continued to draw their MLAs’ salaries but failed to form a government for 589 days, and counting! The rallies were called on 28th August because that’s when N Ireland set a new world record for the length of time without a government – outstripping even Belgium!

The events were initiated by Dylan Quinn of Enniskillen, who captured the mood of a growing swathe of working class people – DUP and Sinn Fein voters alike. 
In my frequent visits to family in my native Fermanagh over recent years, I’ve witnessed the mounting rage at the MLAs from the two dominant parties – DUP and SF – who fail to reach compromises to form an Executive. People are increasingly furious at the failure of MLAs - whose combined salaries exceeded £9m in the 589 days of stalemate – to take any positive action on the horrendous NHS crisis; marriage equality; abortion rights; pay cuts for workers; or the looming upheaval of Brexit. 

NHS CRISIS - BUT £9M IN ABSENTEE MLAs SALARIES!

An illustration of the issues working class communities cry out for solutions to is the attacks on GP practices. Across the North the number of GP practices has fallen from 365 a few years ago to 336 now, which means fewer GPs per head of population than in the 1950s. But there’s much worse to come; government-initiated plans will slash this to an unbelievable 17 GP practices across the whole of N Ireland – with the monstrous consequence for access to treatment.

And no wonder Fermanagh was the birthplace of this #wedeservebetter protest: the planned ‘reforms’ in the NHS threaten to slash the number of GP practices in the county from 18 to 4 or 5 over the next two years – which is why the BMA describes this as the area of worst crisis in the whole of the UK. I know from first-hand family experience the terrible effect this has on the sick and elderly, in tandem with hospital cuts. 

Some of the crowd in Enniskillen 

Those who vented their anger at the politicians yesterday rightly linked the squandering of public funds on salaries for absentee MLAs with the need for investment in public services – for instance in speeches, and with home-made placards declaring “Get Back to Work”, “No Work, No Pay”, and “Take Back the £9m and Give it to the NHS”.

But the most nauseating spectacle was some of the very same politicians uttering how much they understand the protesters’ feelings and how ready they are to listen. Here lies the root problem; over two-thirds of votes cast in the last Assembly elections went to the DUP and Sinn Fein, each of whom relied on a brutal sectarian headcount to hold onto and even increase their votes – after previous years of decline in voters prepared to turn out for them. 


These two parties have collaborated – during several years of power-sharing government -  in carrying out austerity cuts that devastate both communities; handed back powers to slash welfare benefits to the Westminster Tories; agreed on a monumental handout to big business in the form of cutting Corporation Tax to the 12% enjoyed by the capitalists in the South of Ireland; and actively practised (or at best, turned a blind eye to) the rampant corruption of the ‘Cash for Ash’ scam, the Renewable Heating Initiative... investigation into which is still ongoing.

REJECT THE ORANGE AND GREEN DINOSUARS!

The unpleasant truth facing the decent people on the #wedeservebetter rallies is that asking these sectarian-based Orange and Green politicians to ‘get back to work’ is like asking an arsonist to get his act together, gather up supplies of petrol and matches and stop slacking in his fire-raising crimes!

They can’t be trusted to defend the NHS, GP services, education, marriage equality legislation, abortion rights for women, or an end to austerity and growing inequality. They are the political architects of all that is rotten about the society both Catholic and Protestant working class communities suffer under. They need to be replaced, not cajoled into ‘power-sharing’.

The unity and anger on display on the #wedeservebetter protests needs to be built into a grassroots struggle for united working-class action on the issues and united working-class political representation. In short, for working-class unity and socialism, to harness the desire for equality, fairness and an end to tribal divisions that I’ve especially witnessed amongst younger people. 

Yesterday’s protests were heart-warming in their display of unity and desire for change; I hope it can be part of a start to dump the dinosaurs who exploit and whip up sectarian divisions to hold onto their power and salaries. 

[for more background, have a read of my March 2017 blog here]



Friday, 10 August 2018

WELCOME NEW USDAW CAMPAIGN FOR MINIMUM EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEES





In a major new breakthrough for millions of workers suffering poverty pay and insecure jobs, the country's fifth-biggest union, Usdaw, has launched a campaign for a £10 minimum wage, a guaranteed 16-hour minimum contract for all who want one, and contracts that reflect actual hours worked. 

And as agreed at Usdaw's annual conference in April, these policies are being taken to the September TUC congress, as a policy Motion, to seek the support of the entire trade union movement. 

Low pay is condemning a huge swathe of the population to stress, deprivation and dependency on food banks. 

Work is no longer a route out of poverty; 52% of the Scots officially living below the poverty line are actually in a job, working to remain poor. 

We have the grotesque spectacle of fast food workers and supermarket staff turning to food banks for emergency food supplies in 21st Century, rich, arable Scotland. 

Workers' wages have suffered the worst real stagnation and fall since the Napoleonic Wars, 200 years ago! 

And with a national minimum wage that peaks at £7.83-an-hour for those aged over 25, and slumps to £3.70 for apprentices, decent pay is not about to be gifted to us any time soon.

It takes an organised fight to win a decent minimum wage - with the abolition of the lower youth rates too. 

Demand £10 Now! 


£10-an-hour is an extremely modest demand. It's not even two-thirds of the median wage of male workers - the policy of the SSP since our foundation, 20 years ago. 
But compared to the pathetic wages on offer today, £10 would be a mighty step forward. 

And the SSP has always argued for the full rate at 16, recognizing younger people don't enjoy discounts on food, rent or clothing! 

So the campaign launched by Usdaw - the 440,000-strong main union in retail, with members also in food production, transport and distribution - for £10 minimum for all at 18 is a very welcome step. Especially after four years of holding that policy but doing nothing about it until now. 

The same applies to the TUC as a whole; it unanimously voted for "£10 minimum wage for all workers" a full four years ago, in September 2014, but hasn't lifted a finger to fight for it since. 
The time for serious action by the unions is long overdue, so Usdaw's campaign plan is very welcome. 

Demand Guaranteed Minimum 16-Hour Contracts 


Casualised, insecure work - in its modern forms - has been around since at least the 1970s. 
Zero hours contracts, the very pinnacle of this monstrously insecure employment, have existed in the UK since the 1980s. 
But a plague of job insecurity has exploded in more recent years, masked by government boasts of 'record levels of employment'. And low pay goes hand-in-hand with insecure contracts. 

TUC research suggests a full one out of every ten workers is in an insecure job. Latest figures on zero-hours contracts range from 1.4 million to 1.8 million. And much less publicized, but at least as pernicious, are short hour contracts - typically 8, 10 or 12 hours a week. These are absolutely rampant in retail. Increasingly so, as full-time jobs become an endangered species. 

These zero and short hours contracts put millions of workers at the beck and call of their employers; dragged in for far more hours than their contract when it's busy, slashed back to contract hours when it suits the bosses' needs. 

It blights workers and their families with totally insecure incomes, with all the attendant stress and suffering. 

It blocks workers on low guaranteed hours from loans and mortgages; it's their contract hours that count, not actual hours worked. 

Part-time work also imposes lower average hourly rates of pay than those for full-time jobs.

And it even denies access to wage top-ups for many; a couple seeking Working Tax Credit, for instance, must have one person on at least 16 hours.




Break the Chains 


Those are precisely some of the reasons I first came up with the idea of a minimum working week - a guaranteed 16-hour minimum contract - for all workers who want it, in Break the Chains, published in December 2015. 

In turn, this policy was agreed at the 2016 SSP conference. 

And in a major, pioneering breakthrough for the mass organizations of the working class, the April 2018 Usdaw national conference voted for this new policy, unanimously, after I'd proposed it on behalf of my Glasgow G111 Usdaw branch. 

After being recently elected to Usdaw's Executive Council, I've combined with others to insist on a plan of campaigning action on this agreed, pioneering policy - which is now being implemented. 

Join the Struggle! 


Workers and trade unions throughout Scotland and the UK should welcome and support these demands for a minimum £10-an-hour and guaranteed 16-hour minimum contract for all who want it - with the only exception being where a worker, accompanied by their union rep, asks for less than a 16-hour contract. 

Usdaw is committed to a public launch at the September TUC, plus putting these demands into all negotiations with employers, and lobbying all levels of government and political parties.

The SSP stands enthusiastically alongside Usdaw and all other trade unions prepared to fight for these life-changing demands. We appeal to other workers to join in campaign activities, to bludgeon the employers, the Scottish government and local authorities into conceding these minimum standards of employment. 


The demands for £10now and a guaranteed minimum 16-hour week for all workers who want it are both modest and also a revolutionary change compared to the low-paid, casualised wage slavery that curses society today. 
Join the struggle!