Thursday, 12 October 2017

HIGH COURT OF INJUSTICE: stand by your posties!



In a class-ridden fashion that was all too predictable, a High Court judge has granted Royal Mail bosses an interim injunction against the Communication Workers' Union strike action going ahead next week (19-21 October).

The mass democracy of a 9:1 majority for strike action amongst 110,000 CWU members has been trampled underfoot by an unelected judge on behalf of the unelected Royal Mail Group bosses.


After the resounding Yes vote was won - despite all the threats and obstruction thrown up by Royal Mail bosses - they tried to get a legal crushing of the subsequent action by absurdly claiming the union had not taken sufficient steps to inform its members of the planned strikes. Only those posties on a trip to Mars, with all communication channels to ground control cut off, could have been unaware of the planned action! 
These scared, desperate, but brutal bosses had to drop that crude nonsense, but then pursued the line of seeking an interim injunction on grounds of financial damage to the company. 

Court of Class Injustice

In stark confirmation of the role of the judicial arm of the state in the struggle between workers and big business employers, the judge had to decide who would suffer the greater financial damage, depending on whether he allowed the democratically decided industrial action to go ahead, or not. So his decision was to financially protect the Royal Mail bosses, at the expense of stalling the fightback by posties. At the expense of democracy. He instructed the CWU to suspend all industrial action "until external mediation had been concluded". 

The Issues Remain

But in reality this judicial setback only defers rather than defeats the struggle by Royal Mail workers. 
The issues remain. 
Nothing has been solved in the struggle to defend workers' pensions from a cut of up to 30%. 
Nothing has been conceded on the CWU's demands for a decent wage on retirement; or for a 35-hour working week without loss of pay, inclusive of breaks, to protect jobs, reduce drudgery and harness the advantages of new technology; or for defence of the right of union reps to properly function; or to withdraw plans for a two-tier workforce, with lower pay for new starters. 


The 9:1 Ballot Remains 

The ballot result remains.
As CWU General secretary Dave Ward declared outside the High Court of (In-)Justice:

"We walked into the Court with a 90% Yes vote, and we walked out still with a 90% Yes vote. This ballot is still live and kicking." 

The ruling merely delays the likelihood of strike action by 7 weeks, because the judge issued that as a deadline for the warring sides to reach an agreement through 'external mediation'.
This is an entirely bogus proposal; a fig leaf for a naked, class-driven offensive against workers and their ability to defend both their own conditions and the public services they provide. 
Negotiations on these issues have been dragged out by Royal Mail for 18 months already - including external mediation! 
Workers and their union reached the end of their collective tether, and only then balloted for strike action to force the out-of-touch bosses to sit up and listen. 

Strike Before Christmas 

As the CWU's Dave Ward declared, unless mediation leads to an acceptable offer in defence of workers and the great public service they provide, Royal Mail bosses are still staring down the barrel of a gun. The company either protects workers' pensions, pay, jobs, union rights and the service to the public, or they'll still encounter strikes before the peak Christmas period. 

And that's a key detail: the union is absolutely right to declare they will not allow the Royal Mail Board to string out mediation beyond the timescale specified by the High Court. 
The danger is that the employers want to stretch out 'external mediation' until the enhanced impact of a strike in December is dead and gone. They must not succeed. Either they concede to the demands of a workforce they are blatantly out of touch with during the mediation,  or they should be forced into doing so by decisive strike action before Christmas. 

Stand by Your Posties 

The war to defend Royal Mail services and it's workers is far from over. The use of the High Courts to tramp workers' democratic decisions into the dirt will only harden the resolve of these 110,000 men and women - and the determination of fellow trade unionists and socialists to build solidarity with them. 

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

HELP ELECT A SOCIALIST TO THE USDAW NEC

I know this isn't in keeping with the blogs I normally write, but in case some of you are either members of an USDAW union branch in Scotland - or you know somebody who is - I'm posting this letter appealing for branch nominations for the Usdaw National Executive Council elections.



Several Usdaw activists asked me to stand for one of the two positions on the NEC elected by Usdaw's 45,000 members. I eventually made my mind up and agreed to be a candidate!

I want to bring decades of experience as a trade union activist, campaigner and socialist to the deliberations of my union's NEC. Hopefully, the letter briefly explains some of my priority policies and aims.

Retail and related jobs are polluted by poverty pay and job insecurity.

I want to help push our union into a far more urgent approach to actively implementing policies agreed at its own conferences (ADMs - Annual Delegate Meetings), on issues like an IMMEDIATE £10 minimum wage... before inflation makes this a redundant demand!

I want to pursue policies like a guaranteed minimum 16-hour contract for all workers who want it, instead of the abomination of zero hours contracts.

And I want to combine with others to make our union more transparently democratic, with far greater membership control.

I have energetically built up the union membership during my 10 years in Usdaw, and spoken out for what I believe in at conferences of the union - both Scottish and UK-wide.

Please consider what you can do to help me get nominations at Usdaw branches.
Nominations started last week, and the deadline for receipt of all branch nominations at the Usdaw HQ is 13th November. Get in touch if your Usdaw branch needs more of my details for the nomination procedures.

Apologies to those NOT in Usdaw who read this - but have a think if you know anyone in the union who you can share this with, and encourage them to support a socialist candidate for the Usdaw NEC.


Wednesday, 4 October 2017

END AUSTERITY: RELY ON WORKERS' UNITED ACTION




Something major must be happening when you get a senior Tory party conference delegate declaring on TV: "We need to rename our party to the Conservative Workers Party"! 

The proposed launch of the CWP isn't just a sick joke, when compared with the Tories' obnoxious track record on slashing wages, slaughtering public services and aiming to wipe out workers' rights - all in the name of turbocharged profit for the few. 

It's also a half-acknowledged reflection of the latent power of working class people to change the society we live in, and the sheer dread of the Tories and their millionaire cohort at the mounting anger and opposition of workers - including the growing outbreaks of protests and strike actions.



Age of Austerity 


We live in the infamous Age of Austerity. Since the bankers brought the economy to the brink of collapse in 2008, working class people have paid the terrible price of capitalist profiteering - twice! 

First, through the £1.3trillion bailout of the bankers from public funds in 2008. Since then, through the systematic theft of wages under the seven-year public sector pay cap; robbery of wages and conditions in the private sector; and savagery against public services and the benefits of society's most vulnerable people, including the sick and disabled. 



The Tories are panic-stricken at the potential of the lid blowing off the pressure cooker of plummeting pay and rising inflation, with outbreaks of strike action over recent months - and unanimous backing for a Motion at the recent TUC conference for coordinated demonstrations and strike action against the pay cap. They dread a winter of discontent. 


Savage Pay Cuts


TUC research has shown five million public sector workers have lost between £2,000 to £5,000 in wages from the zero and 1% pay cap of the last seven years.
Recent official inflation figures of 3.9% have added to workers' fury. 

Trade unions in the civil service and local authorities have lodged pay claims of 5% to stop the ongoing annual pay cuts; and at least the current RPI inflation rate of 3.9% in the case of NHS unions. 


Tens of thousands joined the demo outside Tory conference. The civil service PCS union held pay-day protests in over 100 places on 29 September, and is starting a consultative ballot of 160,000 members on strike action on pay from 9 October. 

At the TUC, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka rightly called on other public sector unions to do likewise, to seriously prepare the grounds for actual strike ballots, building up the readiness of members, in order to overcome the high-hurdles obstructions to action imposed by the 2016 Tory (anti-) Trade Union Act, with its 50% threshold. 


PCS general secretary, Mark Serwotka

Divided Tories Seek to Divide Workers 

As we warned in articles back in early July, the Tories are divided on how to respond, but determined to divide and defeat workers as they beat a retreat on their brutal pay cap.
They know a total, across-the-board climb-down would embolden millions of workers - including in the private sector - who are struggling to survive the planned poverty that is austerity.
But they also know the pay cap is unsustainable, a recipe for explosions that could even threaten the downfall of the enfeebled Theresa May regime. 

The Tories resort to divide-and-conquer trickery, with talk of responding to the Pay Review Bodies' Reports - hiding the fact these bodies only cover less than 45% of public sector workers - and offer piddling pay rises to prison officers and police that don't even match half the 3.9% inflation rate.

The warnings we've made of their divisive tactics have materialized: after seven long years of draconian pay cuts, they might offer token rises a bit above the 1% cap to prison officers, police, firefighters and nurses - but exclude civil service and council staff, in the hope they don't enjoy the same levels of public sympathy.

On top of which, any pay concessions are poised to be paid for by job cuts and slashed services. Already, the GMB union has calculated the loss of nearly a million public sector jobs since 2010 - driving down that sector to 17% of all workers, the lowest proportion since the year before the NHS was founded! 


Scrap the Cap - by how much? 


Workers will all welcome the promises of both Jeremy Corbyn and the current SNP government to end the Tory pay cap. But what remains unanswered from both is what level of pay rise is on offer when they 'scrap the cap'. Neither has openly backed the modest demands of 5% demanded by civil service and council unions. 

In the most immediate situation, will any pay rise from the Scottish government be funded by taxing the rich, and mounting a serious struggle to win back some of the £billions robbed from Scottish budgets by successive Tory and Labour Westminster governments?
Or just from a reshuffling of the block grant budget between pay, jobs and public services? Robbing Peter to pay Paul.

In the private sector - such as retail - any recent concessions on paltry pay have been accompanied by savage attacks on other terms and conditions, such as premium payments for working Sundays, bank holidays, nightshifts or other antisocial hours. Robbing Peter to pay Peter! 


Don't Trade Jobs or Services for Pay 


The real danger is that unless the unions take united, decisive action to prevent it, the Scottish and UK governments - and alongside this, local councils - will try to trade off pay rises for cuts to jobs, conditions and public services.

The anti-austerity message from Jeremy Corbyn has emboldened workers in England that something radically different is available. The brutal realities of pay cuts and other assaults on conditions has led to outbursts of small strikes - such as BA cabin crews, and the courageous group of McDonald's workers - which, in my own experience, has encouraged some other workers to talk about the role of the unions. 



Posties on the picket line


Stand by Your Post! 


Royal Mail workers in the CWU - 110,000 of them - have voted for strikes against the loss of up to 30% of their pensions; for a decent wage on retirement; against the introduction of lower pay for new starters - a two-tier workforce; against assaults on union reps; and for reduction of the working week to 35 hours, without loss of pay, inclusive of paid breaks. 

In the first national ballot to be held since the 2016 Tory Trade Union Act threw up barriers against winning a vote for action that would make Aintree's Becher's Brook look like a molehill, CWU members smashed through the Tory blockades to democracy with an astonishing majority. In a 73.3% turnout, a whopping 89.1% voted for strike action.


Their anger has been fuelled by the handout of £770million in dividends to shareholders, and the payment of up to £200,000 a year to top Royal Mail bosses' separate pension pots, which remain untouched. 

The CWU's call for a shorter working week without loss of earnings, to tackle workload, protect full-time jobs, and prepare for the impact of 'the fourth technological revolution', exactly matches workers' needs in general - and matches the polices of the SSP. 


RMT members across several profiteering rail companies are striking against the safety- threatening Driver Only Operated trains being imposed as government policy. They are showing admirable courage in the face of government-sponsored brutality by the rail companies and a vicious media onslaught. They deserve the solidarity of other unions. 



For Coordinated Action  


The time is increasingly ripening for coordinated action on pay and related conditions.
Not at the expense of jobs, or public services, but at the expense of the obscenely rich and profiteering corporations. 

The TUC has a horrible history of doing little or literally nothing to implement their own agreed policies and actions. Rather than simply sit and wait for them to implement the agreed demos and coordinated strikes to scrap the pay cap, socialists and other union activists need to bombard their own union leaderships with demands for action. 


The welcome pledge by PCS leader Mark Serwotka to initiate meetings of all public sector unions could help mobilize millions of public sector workers. 

Those of us in private sector workplaces should build solidarity with workers in Royal Mail, the railways, and the public sector, making demands on our own employers for pay rises to compensate for years of eye-watering pay cuts, but without loss of jobs or other terms and conditions. 





Demand No Cuts Budgets - and £10 Now! 


The season of budgets from the Westminster, Holyrood and local authority governments is upon us, and the unions should unite with community groups and socialists in demanding real and concrete actions to reverse the tsunami of austerity. 


The SSP is calling on unions to mount a battle to demand the funding for a (voluntary, non-statutory) £10 Living Wage for all 500,000 Scottish workers employed directly or indirectly by the Scottish government and the 32 Scottish local authorities. 

This would help combat poverty pay. It would set a benchmark for the other 80% of workers employed in the private sector.
It would be a serious step by the unions to implement the "£10 minimum wage for all workers" that they agreed - unanimously - a long, excruciating 3 years ago, at the September 2014 TUC conference! 

But Scottish and council politicians should be bombarded to set No Cuts budgets, demanding the funding off Westminster and Holyrood to at least protect existing jobs and services, with the £10 minimum included, and equal pay for women - not rob Peter to pay Pauline (or Peter!). 



The Acid Test for Labour and SNP 


SNP Councillors, MSPs and MPs won mandates by claiming to be anti-austerity. 

In England, Jeremy Corbyn's Labour won massively increased support with its anti-austerity message. Now in Scottish Labour, Richard Leonard is seeking votes as leader by association with Corbyn.

All these political forces need to be put to the test with demands to turn grand words into meaningful action. 

Instead of passing on nearly £3billion of Westminster cuts since 2010, the SNP government needs to face a movement - led by unions and community organisations - demanding they defy all Tory cuts and win back some of our stolen £billions through mass action. 


The teachers' union, EIS, is currently in tripartite talks where the Scottish government and COSLA (councils) have offered 1.5% pay rise for new teachers and those at the top end of the pay scale, and only 1% for other teachers. That hardly matches Nicola Sturgeon's bold public promises of ending the pay cap! 

Labour and SNP councillors need to be pounded with pressure to reverse their sorry record of cutting jobs, pay and public services. 


Birmingham bin collectors strike against Labour council axe-wielders



Labour and the Brummie Bin Strike 


The acid test for Corbyn's Labour has been their baleful role in the battle between Birmingham bin workers and the city's Labour council.
There, Labour has acted to 'delete' 113 safety critical bin collectors' jobs, with a £5,000 pay cut; employed agency workers to undermine the resultant strike action; and then reneged on a deal brokered through ACAS - issuing real, live redundancy notices to their own workers. This was only halted by the resumed strike action of the bin workers, which helped Unite the union win a court ruling that outlawed Labour's redundancy notices. 


Here's the crunch; the warning to anyone falling for the idea that workers should "wait for a Corbyn government" rather than fight back now, with strikes where necessary.
Not once has Jeremy condemned the role of Birmingham's Labour councillors. Not once has the massively popular, anti-austerity, left-wing Corbyn leadership issued a call to its own Labour councillors, anywhere, to defy Tory funding cuts, to set No Cuts budgets. Instead, as well as the savagery suffered at the hands of years of Labour councils in Scotland, their counterparts in Durham and Derby have provoked strikes by teaching assistants, against Labour council pay cuts of 23%; with no condemnation, let alone expulsion, of these Labour axe-wielders by the national, Corbyn Labour leadership.

Waiting for Godot? 


Workers have been undoubtedly enthused and encouraged to fight back by the inspiring speeches of Jeremy Corbyn, with their core message of standing up 'for the many, not the few'. And the Corbyn surge in England has seriously weakened the May Tory regime.

But it would be fatal to rely on 'waiting for Godot'. How are workers and their families meant to live whilst waiting for the election of Corbyn as Prime Minister? How can workers topple the enfeebled Tory regime without taking action on pay, pensions, jobs and public services, here and now? And can we believe there will be an outright end to austerity under Labour - even when led by Jeremy Corbyn - given their failure when the chips are down in several local authorities, and the absence of any sanctions against right-wing Labour councillors from the left-wing UK leadership? 


Workers' Potential Power

The Tories, in their own perverse fashion, recognize the potential power of the organised trade union movement, and its potential allies amongst students and other young people. 


In battling against austerity, pay cuts, attacks on pensions, jobs and services, we need to rely on that potential and help mobilize it - not wait for some future salvation by politicians, no matter how decent or well-intentioned. 

Those who rule the roost, making profit out of working people, are past masters at divide-and-rule tactics. Trade unionists, community campaigners, young people and socialists need to help build the campaign for coordinated demos and strike action to reverse the tide of cuts to our share of the wealth which we created in the first place. 


SSP is Battle-Ready 


The SSP is ready and willing to play its part (in our unions, communities and colleges) in the struggle for a £10 minimum wage here and now, with no loss of other conditions; to scrap the cap, with pay rises to compensate for seven years of wage cuts; No Cuts council and Scottish budgets, with a struggle to win back some of the £billions stolen off Scotland by Tory and Labour governments; for an immediate 35-hour maximum working week without loss of earnings, to share out the workload and take advantage of new technology; and ultimately for a socialist society run by the many millions, not the few millionaires. 

Saturday, 23 September 2017

BIRMINGHAM BIN STRIKE: AN ACID TEST FOR LABOUR



In an important victory for all workers fighting austerity, the High Court has ruled (on 20 September) in favour of Unite the union and ordered Birmingham Labour city council to withdraw the compulsory redundancy notices they’d issued to 113 safety critical refuse collection workers.

As part of the legal ruling, the union has agreed to suspend industrial action until a full Court hearing. This is, at the very least, a temporary victory for workers who faced the options of the sack or a £5,000 pay cut within weeks – from a Labour council, yes, a LABOUR council!

The battle of the Birmingham bin workers is an acid test of the readiness of trade union leaders to lead decisive action against the slaughter of jobs, wages and safety standards in the Age of Austerity. But it’s also a critically important object lesson and acid test of the role of the Corbyn-led Labour Party.

Workers angry at constant attacks on our conditions – including by local councils – should be greatly emboldened by the courageous action of the Brummie bin workers.
But the hundreds of thousands of people who have invested their hopes of something entirely different from Labour under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership – or indeed those who now hope Richard Leonard will win the Scottish Labour leadership against the millionaire, poverty-paying, non-union employer, Anas Sarwar – have a lot of soul-searching and harsh questions to face up to from the experience of the Birmingham showdown.

Background to the Strike

Back on 16 June, Unite the union won a 90% majority for strike action by the Brummie bin workers against the Labour council’s plans – in their cynically genteel phrase – to “delete” all 122 Grade 3, supervisory jobs; the leading hands on the teams collecting household rubbish.
These safety-critical workers, on as little as £21,000, faced being fired, then offered jobs as bin collectors on £5,000 lower wages!

In a drive to save £5m a year, the Labour worthies and council officials – whose chief executive Stella Manzie is on £180,000, plus almost as much again in expenses! – also plan to turn the 4-day working week into a 5-day system. They are demanding collection from an extra 50-70 households per (shorter) day – on top of the frequently unmanageable current daily target of 1,500 households. All with the false claim of “a more effective, efficient and modern refuse service.”

As one of the strikers (of 22 years service) explained, he gets up at 4.45am, to start at 6am. Others start at 5am. They get a 15-minute concession break at 9am, during which they are obliged to eat in the bin wagon “with only wipes and hand sanitizers because of the regular management intimidation over our productivity”.
Birmingham seems to be the only council that insists on refuse collectors getting bins from the side of the house and returning them there, rather than the kerbside, closed-lid collection everywhere else. This slows down the job, but then workers are berated and bullied by management for their productivity.

Safety Critical Workers to be ‘Deleted’

The job of the Grade 3 workers the Labour council wants to ‘delete’ is safety critical.
The council want to dump their safety tasks on the drivers. But the drivers’ vision is restricted, as they operate 12-tonne trucks, twice that weight when full.

Kids run out from behind cars. Residents risk life and limb throwing rubbish in the back, where the lifting mechanism operates by sensors and can crush you to death. Motorists rushing to work are abusive on a daily basis, get too close, and in one case drove into the back of the wagon and nearly killed the loader.
Birmingham is the only council not to have a route risk assessment, despite demands by the union for years.

As well as the physical safety of the public, the Grade 3 leading hands look out for other loaders, 40-50 per cent of whom are hired as agency workers on zero hours contracts, replaced daily on routes, continually forced to waive the right to permanent jobs – in at least one case for 9 years!

This dispute echoes some of the issues around Driver Only Trains. But it’s a Labour council that’s acting like a bunch of dictatorial, Tory-backed bosses.

Labour Council Renege on Deal

Strikes began on 30 June. Through the conciliation service, ACAS, a deal was reached between the Labour council and Unite on 15 August, including:
“The council agreed in principle that Grade 3 posts will be maintained. Consequently, there are no redundancy steps in place.”
In return, the union called off the strikes and agreed “to recommend to their members work pattern changes, including consideration of a 5-day week.”

By 30 August, the council reneged on the deal, issued 113 redundancy notices to Grade 3 bin loaders, with the Labour council leader denying a deal had ever been reached – which ACAS took the unprecedented step of publicly contradicting – and claiming it was “unaffordable”.
Aside from the appalling failure to uphold an agreement, the council’s claims don’t match the £269million increase in ‘useable reserves’ in 2016 – to a total of £895million.
The same Labour council spent a fortune hiring agency workers and contractors to try and undermine the strike action.

Their betrayal of all trust in the deal they agreed through ACAS provoked the resumption of strike action from 1st September, when the Labour council handed out very real redundancy notices.

Labour Victimisation of Strikers

The Labour council’s actions suggest they are not only hell-bent on slashing wages and conditions but breaking the union too, perhaps as the prelude to privatisation.

They threatened disciplinary action again bin workers who not only took daily strike action for 3 hours, but also dared work to proper health and safety standards by returning to the depot for their breaks – instead of eating in a germ-infested bin wagon with no wash facilities.
The council threatened to withdraw all pay, not just for the 3 hours on strike, but for the entire day.
A blatant case of victimisation of workers engaged in legal strike action.

The council pumped out propaganda about the threat of future equal pay claims making the deal agreed at ACAS unaffordable. But this has since been exposed as a complete sham; cover for their cost-cutting, safety-threatening plans to ‘delete’ the Grade 3 jobs and slash wages. In the High Court case taken by Unite the union against the redundancy notices, the council’s legal team never once raised this claim of unaffordable equal pay claims.

The bin workers refused to be cowed. They voted by 92% in a 72% turnout to extend strike action by another 12 weeks. They won local support in rallies at the council buildings. They won unanimous support at last week’s TUC conference, which supported the bin workers and condemned the Labour council for reneging on the ACAS-facilitated deal.

In an appalling indictment of a Labour council, Unite initiated a food bank for the strikers this week! Now, their firm stance has helped win the High Court ruling that has forced the council to withdraw the redundancy notices.




Broader Lessons for Labour Supporters

These bin workers need and deserve our solidarity until they win an outright victory. In defence of safety, wages and conditions. But there’s also a broader issue, especially for those who’ve placed their hopes for workers’ rights and livelihoods in the Labour Party since Jeremy Corbyn’s welcome elections as leader.
For all the talk of Corbyn’s Labour being anti-austerity – and winning mass support with that message in England – here we have a Labour council acting like the worst, anti-union Tories, carrying out austerity at a local level.

And just as we’ve written elsewhere, not once has the Corbyn leadership issued a clarion call on their own Labour councillors to resist Tory cuts.
Where has there been a word of criticism of Birmingham Labour council from the same national Labour leadership?


Howard Beckett, Unite assistant general secretary 


Labour Left's Silence

A very telling contrast in speeches at the TUC should be grounds for serious thought for all those pinning their hopes in Labour. Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett moved the Motion supporting the bin workers in a barnstorming speech, declaring:
“If Labour councillors act like Tories, we will call them Tories and treat them like Tories.”
In stark contrast, Jeremy Corbyn told the same TUC conference:
“We have a duty as a labour movement to find a resolution to this dispute as soon as possible.”
There’s not been a word of condemnation of the Birmingham Labour councillors from Jeremy that I can trace.
There’s certainly been no withdrawal of the Labour whip, nor outright expulsion, of these anti-worker, anti-union, austerity-wielding Labour councillors by the Corbyn leadership.
And many bin workers are increasingly asking where the national Labour leadership have been during the strikes and rallies; they’ve not attended any.

SSP Solidarity with Brummie Bin Workers

And at a local level, when I politely asked left-wing Labour activists about the Brummie bin strike at the recent launch of Richard Leonard’s campaign to become Scottish Labour leader, they hung their heads, and shuffled into the rally in silence.

Socialists cannot remain silent on such a critical confrontation between workers and their union on one side, and an axe-wielding Labour council on the other, with jobs, wages and safety at stake.

Political parties should be judged by their deeds, not just their words.

The dirty deeds of Labour on the Brummie bins battle should be a powerful lesson to all trade unionists looking for a socialist alternative.
And for all the Scottish Labour left’s talk of independence being a threat to working class unity and solidarity, they appear disappointingly silent on offering solidarity to Birmingham workers in brutal conflict with a Labour council – whereas the pro-independence Scottish Socialist Party hasn’t hesitated to take sides with these trade unionists in England’s second city.

Friday, 8 September 2017

LABOUR'S DIRTY TRICKS IN BRUMMIE BIN STRIKE



Alongside the history-making strike by the brave, pioneering McDonald's workers, the other big conflict currently in the headlines is the battle of the Birmingham bin workers with the Labour city council. 

The media are quick to depict the mountains of rotting rubbish, but rarely expose the root causes of this long-running conflict. 


Back on 16 June, Unite the union won a 90% majority for strike action by the Brummie bin workers against the Labour council's plans - in their genteel phrase - to "delete" all 122 Grade 3, supervisory jobs; the leading hands on the teams collecting household rubbish. 

Under Labour council plans, safety-critical workers, on as little as £21,000, would be expected to continue their current roles - but after being fired, then offered jobs as bin collectors... on up to £5,000 less wages!

In a drive to save £5million a year, the Labour worthies and council officials also plan to turn the 4-day working week into a 5-day system, whilst keeping the same 37 hours; demanding collection from an extra 50-70 households per (shorter) day - on top of the frequently unmanageable current daily target of 1,500 households. All with the false claim of "a more effective, efficient and modern refuse service." 





Eating in The Bin Wagon

As one of the strikers (of 22 years' service) explained, he gets up at 4.45am, to start at 6am; others start at 5am. 


"We get a 15-minute concession break at 9am, during which we are obliged to eat in the bin wagon, with only wipes and hand sanitizers, because of the regular management intimidation over our productivity levels."



Birmingham appears to be the only council that insists on refuse collectors getting bins from the side of the house and returning them there, rather than the kerbside, closed-lid collection everywhere else. This slows down the job, but then workers are berated and bullied by management for their productivity. 


The job of the Grade 3 workers the Labour council wants to 'delete' is safety critical.
The drivers' vision is restricted, as they operate 12-tonne trucks, twice that weight when full. Kids run out from behind cars. Residents risk life and limb throwing rubbish in the back, where the lifting mechanism operates by sensors, and can crush you to death. Motorists rushing to work are abusive on a daily basis, get too close, and in one case drove into the back of the wagon and nearly killed the loader. Birmingham is the only council not to have a route risk assessment, despite demands by the union for years. 

As well as the physical safety of the public, the Grade 3 leading hands look out for other loaders, 40-50 per cent of whom (250-280) are hired as agency workers, on zero hours contracts, replaced daily on routes, continually forced to waive the right to permanent jobs - in one case for 9 years


Labour Redundancy Notices 

This dispute echoes some of the issues around Driver Only Trains; the crusade to eliminate safety critical jobs. But it's a Labour council that's acting like a bunch of dictatorial, Tory-backed bosses. 


Strikes began on 30 June. Through the conciliation service, ACAS, a deal was reached between the Labour council and Unite on 15 August, including:

"The council agreed in principle that Grade 3 posts will be maintained. Consequently there are no redundancy steps in place." 

In return, the union called off the strikes and agreed "to recommend to their members work pattern changes, including consideration of a 5-day week." 


By 30 August, the council reneged on the deal, issued 106 redundancy notices to Grade 3 supervisory bin loaders, with the Labour council leader denying a deal had ever been reached - which ACAS took the unusual step of publicly contradicting - and claiming it was "unaffordable". 


Aside from the appalling failure to uphold an agreement, the council's claims don't match the £269million increase in their 'useable reserves' in 2016 - to a total of £895million. The same Labour council spent a fortune hiring agency and contractors to try and undermine the strike action - which they've now provoked resumption of, since 1st September, by handing out very real redundancy notices. 

It would appear they are not only hell-bent on slashing wages and conditions, but breaking the union too, perhaps as the prelude to privatisation. 



Labour: Saviours from Austerity?! 

These bin workers need and deserve our solidarity. In defence of safety, wages and conditions.

But there's also a broader issue, especially for those (including in Scotland) who've placed their hopes for workers' rights and  workers' livelihoods in the Labour Party since Jeremy Corbyn's welcome, twice-over election as leader. 

For all the talk of Corbyn's Labour being anti-austerity, and winning mass support - especially in England - with that message, here we have a Labour council acting like the worst, anti-union Tories, carrying out austerity at local level. 

And just as we've said elsewhere, not once has the Corbyn leadership issued a clarion call on their own Labour councillors to resist and refuse Tory cuts.
Where has there been a word of criticism - let alone expulsion - of Birmingham Labour councillors from the same national Labour leadership? None that I can trace at the time of writing.



Wednesday, 6 September 2017

McSTRIKE! - build the fight for £10now and a union




September 4th 2017 should go down in the history books as the start of a fight by a new generation of workers against poverty pay, insecure jobs, bullying, intimidation and lack of union rights. 

A very brave group of 40 McDonald's workers in Cambridge and Crayford, south east London, voted by a whopping 96% to strike, in the ballot conducted by their union, the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU). 

They defied management threats and victimisation - including slashed hours and sexual harassment - for daring to be in the union; walked out to form pickets, were joined by big crowds of supporters on rallies, plus 14 solidarity demos across the UK. 

Their core demand was for £10-an-hour and a union. 

They chose to strike on 4 September to coincide with US Labor Day, where fast food workers involved in the sweeping mass movement in the Fight for $15 went on strike, as did McDonald's workers in Belgium and elsewhere.
It was the start of global workers' action against global capitalism's totemic symbol - McD's - global casualisation and cheap labour. 

Starvation Wages 

The conditions these workers suffer, and are striking back against, are symptomatic of not just one of the world's biggest multinational corporations, but of the modern serfdom that 21st century capitalism relies on to turbocharge their profits. 

Tyrone is one of the Cambridge strikers. Aged 17, he's on £4.75 an hour. He describes working with the unbearable kitchen heat, the impatient queues, the aggro - but still forced to skimp meals through poverty pay; still unable to get a home of his own, sleeping on a punctured air bed in his mate's bedroom, wakening several times to pump it up again. 

His dream of winning £10-an-hour through the union and strike action is humbling in its modesty: "I could get a proper bed. I could get out of my mate's house. That's all I want, a place and a bed."

Tom, one of the union reps, is 24, and therefore on £7.55.  But he often skimps meals to save enough to visit his 4-year-old son, making do with the one free meal McD's allows him. This is the same corporation with the company line: "We have committed to investing in our people, to competitive rates of pay."

That's the problem; the government's paltry levels of minimum wage means they are often all too 'competitive' - in particular for younger workers, whom McDonald's and their ilk prey on for profit, because they're legally cheaper to hire, due to the lower legal youth minimum wages. 





Them and Us 

McDonald's methods encapsulate the whole system perfectly, grotesquely. 

Their own investment calculator reckons if you'd been able to buy 1,000 shares last December - when young Tyrone started with them - you'd have made £34,025 profit by now... whereas even if Tyrone had slaved in a hot kitchen full-time since he'd have earned only £7,410. 

Tom can barely afford to travel to see his toddler son, but McDonald's Chief Executive, Steve Easterbrook, has use of the company's private aircraft, and enjoys a package equivalent to £5,684 an hour!! 

They use zero hours contracts to wring maximum profit out of their 80,000 UK workers - and almost zero-rated corporation tax; well, a rate of 1.49%, to be accurate! They only promised to offer secure contracts, with guaranteed hours, in a state of panic after the strike ballot. And they've yet to put anything acceptable in writing. 

"I'll Tell You What It's All About!" 

As BFAWU Scottish Organiser Mark McHugh told the recent SSP public meeting in Govanhill, McDonald's were the first to introduce zero hours contracts to the UK, back in 1974! 

"It's taken this long to take them to task. I'll tell you what this strike is all about. It's about respect and dignity at work; the right to join a union; proper health and safety - not suffering burns and being told to take your break now, instead of getting treatment. It's about the right to join a union. About having the same right to go on holiday as anyone else. To actually get a shift when you turn up, not be sent home because it's quiet. 

We owe it to young people to win decent rights, because these retail park jobs are not stop gap jobs, they're what thousands face long-term. The food industry is booming, so they should be treated as serious jobs." 

From Acorns to Mighty Oaks 

It's to the eternal credit of these strikers, and their union, that they've taken serious, courageous action. For £10 and a union. For abolition of zero hours contracts and secure jobs. For an end to bullying and sexual harassment, both of which are rampant in these sectors: fast food, hospitality, retail. 

These are sectors bedeviled by the poverty pay and job insecurity that go with zero hours contracts like burgers go with chips. 

The strikes were a tiny proportion of the total workforce. But a similarity small section of McDonald's workers went on strike in New York City in November 2012, starting the Fight for $15, which through strikes and mass actions in the communities has now won big wage hikes for 22 million workers in the USA. 


£10 Now! 

The trade union movement needs a leadership that is serious about its own grand words and wishes. A long, torturous 3 years ago - September 2014 - the TUC congress voted unanimously for the BFAWU Motion for "a £10 minimum wage for all workers." 

Since then most union leaderships have done little - or literally nothing - to implement that demand. The BFAWU and some other union branches have campaigned for it - as has the Scottish Socialist Party, on the streets, in our unions, and as a demand we put to councils and the Scottish government to immediately introduce. 

And unlike even Labour's best, Jeremy Corbyn, the SSP wants £10 immediately, not three years hence, in 2020; in fact £10 is rapidly approaching its sell-by-date, given the inflation on daily necessities. 

Defend the Strikers

These McDonald's workers deserve a medal, but above all deserve the protection and solidarity of other workers and other unions. As the BFAWU President, Ian Hodson, told a strike rally,
"If even one striker is victimised for going on strike, we demand that others come to the McDonald's branch and occupy it." 

That's the militant spirit of defiance and class solidarity that pioneered the creation of the trade unions, especially amongst the most exploited sections of workers nearly 150 years ago. 

We owe it to the next generation to build on the courage of the first ever McStrikers in the UK, to fan the spark they lit into a flame that helps burn out the casualisation and super-exploitation faced by millions. 

The SSP pledges to play its part, alongside the BFAWU and others, for £10 now and a union; for a guaranteed minimum 16-hour contract instead of the serfdom and insecurity of zero hours contracts; for full union rights and full employment rights from the first day in a job. 

Ultimately, for a society based on workers' solidarity and sharing out the collective wealth workers produce. As a Guardian columnist put it, "The problem isn't one company, but the system of which it is part." 

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Here's the video the SSP did to build solidarity as the McStrikers prepared their brave action:




Saturday, 26 August 2017

SCOTLAND NEEDS SOCIALISM & SELF-GOVERNMENT - not Labour Civil War




As Jeremy Corbyn gathers crowds on his whistle-stop tour of Scotland, socialists, trade unionists and young people need to wrestle with whether Scottish Labour is about to be transformed into the vehicle for radical, socialist change.

It would appear most of the events Jeremy is addressing lack much opportunity for friendly debate; in fact, mostly none at all. But that’s precisely what’s needed, (in addition to the indispensable role of campaigning rallies) if the people who are drawn to Corbyn’s message “for the many, not the few” are to clarify how best to win far-reaching and irreversible change in our society. Socialist change in favour of the many millions, unashamedly at the expense of the few millionaires – in Scotland’s case, broadly for the 5.3 million, not the 10 billionaires!

Is it really wise for socialists to invest their time and talent in Scottish Labour on the coat-tails of Jeremy Corbyn's impact on working class and young voters in the recent general election - specifically in England? Should they ignore the profound differences in the political landscape of Scotland compared to England, or the baleful history of Scottish Labour? 

Scotland has an already-existing socialist party in the form of the SSP, founded in September 1998, and it has never once flinched from socialist principles and working-class solidarity. 
The SSP welcomes the boost to public debate around anti-austerity, anti-war, left-wing ideas that Jeremy Corbyn's leadership has triggered. 
Jeremy’s honesty and decency - with policies to the left of anything Labour has offered for years – has attracted large numbers to the message "for the many, not the few”. Although, it has to be added, the crowds attracted in Scotland bear no resemblance to the mass upsurge and outpouring of adulation for Jeremy at events in England; a reminder of the very different political forces on the field of struggle for allegiances north of the border.

Capitalist and Blairite Sabotage
The sabotage and onslaught from the capitalists, their media, and Labour's right-wing enemies of socialism is a warning that halfway measures won’t succeed in winning a transformation of lives for the working-class majority. 
Even the very modest reforms promised by Jeremy would require full-blooded socialist measures to succeed. In fact, measures advocated by the SSP, but NOT included in Corbyn’s manifesto! 
To use one simple illustration, the SSP stands for outright, complete, democratic public ownership of the entire railway system - not the partial, gradualist, potentially chaotic Labour plan to take over each separate rail franchise as it expires, years apart from each other. 

Labour Civil War - or United Socialist Party? 
Leadership is critical in any struggle, whether in a workplace, local community, national campaign on a specific issue, or more especially in the grandiose task of changing the system of political economy we live in. But whilst the role of an individual can be of enormous consequence to the outcome of such struggles, no one person can change society. That requires the collective.
Winning welcome reforms - like a £10 minimum wage, abolition of Zero Hours Contracts and expansion of education - will require a determined, united, socialist party, rooted in the workplaces, communities and colleges, committed to democratic public ownership, and prepared to lead mass struggles. 
Not a Labour Party riven by civil war, with MPs utterly opposed to Corbyn and socialism, biding their time to knife their own elected leader.



Scottish Labour bears no resemblance to Corbyn’s ideals.
 

Its key leaders (including Kezia Dugdale and Ian Murray MP) are sworn enemies of Corbyn; they helped stage failed coups against him.
In the words of Labour’s own Campaign for Socialism group, “In Scotland, we looked more like Jim Murphy’s Labour Party than Jeremy Corbyn’s”. (BBC, 21 July 2017)

Beware of False New Friends 
And as I've observed at the initial events addressed by Corbyn on his current whirlwind visit to SNP/Labour marginal seats, there is little in life that's more nauseating than right-wing Labour hacks, MPs and MSPs pushing aside anyone in their path to grab a selfie with Jezz, like a bunch of besotted teenagers. These include Labour politicians who wouldn't have spat on Jeremy if he was on fire six months ago, and pointedly refused to attend his election rallies, or even allow any mention of him on their election literature. 

How can Corbyn - or more to the point, working class people seeking radical change through Corbyn - have any faith in such superficial, latter-day converts, who echoed the Tories' and media's vitriolic abuse against Corbyn and his policies mere months ago? With new-found friends like that, Corbyn doesn't need the open, right-wing enemies that still control the Labour Party machine, at both Scottish and UK level. 

Scottish Labour's Real Record 
Since our formation in 1998, the SSP has fearlessly, persistently defended socialism - whilst Scottish Labour has acted as thinly-disguised Tories, abandoning the aims of Keir Hardie and other pioneers. 
Imposing the bedroom tax just like they did the poll tax; slashing council jobs and services; shutting schools to cut spending; keeping all the Tory anti-union laws; threatening to jail workers who dared strike against Glasgow Labour’s municipal butchery; spurning numerous opportunities to extend public ownership, or reduce inequality – including during coalition with the LibDems at Holyrood.

Judge by Deeds, not Press Releases! 
People genuinely wanting a society ‘for the many, not the few’ have a duty to judge parties by their deeds - not just the words in their latest press release. Let’s glance at a few case histories that illustrate this; contrasting the principled track record of the SSP with Scottish Labour's deeds, as opposed to any recent words they've discovered! 

The SSP pioneered the battle to abolish NHS prescription charges, in the streets, communities, unions, and Scottish parliament - only to be voted down by Labour MSPs.

The SSP has campaigned for No Cuts budgets, in defiance of Tory austerity - and frequently led fellow-workers in strikes; communities in protests and sit-ins… against Labour council closures of schools, community facilities and their slaughter of jobs and services. 
Not one single group of Scottish Labour councillors has ever voted to stop ALL cuts, and unfortunately Jeremy’s leadership has never once made a clarion call for Labour councillors to do so.

The SSP has campaigned since 1998 for abolition of the Council Tax. For a replacement Scottish Service Tax, based on income, with over 77% of households paying less, but the rich coughing up; DOUBLING income for local jobs and services (from £2bn to £4.1bn in 2015 figures).

For years, Scottish Labour relentlessly defended the Council Tax. Even since their extremely belated conversion (in August 2016) to the SSP’s mantra "abolish the unfair council tax”, Scottish Labour still refuses to call for an income-based, progressive replacement, based on ability to pay. And UK Labour’s ‘For the Many’ manifesto merely pledges to “review the council tax to make it fairer” – incidentally, the same position as the SNP!


£10 Now! - Not in 2020
The SSP has fought for 3 years, since September 2014, for an immediate £10 minimum wage for all over 16, with equal pay for women - in contrast to the welcome, but feeble, recent pledge by Corbyn's Labour of £10 by 2020 - and then only for workers over 18. 
In a nutshell, there's a 6-year gap between the SSP and Corbyn's Labour on the issue of a £10 minimum wage, plus a 2-year gap between us when it comes to eliminating age wage discrimination. 

And as I've written in a previous blog (and before that in Break the Chains), if Labour is serious about fighting for a £10 minimum, why don't they immediately use their positions as councillors and MSPs to demand a voluntary £10 Living Wage in the forthcoming budgets in Scotland's 32 local councils and Scottish government? That would overnight transform the livelihoods of many of the 500,000 workers employed by these bodies. 




War and WMDs 
The SSP has never wavered in its opposition to war and nuclear weapons.
Alongside SCND, we initiated the Scottish Coalition for a Justice not War, within days of the 9/11 atrocity - and subsequently mobilized 100,000 on the streets of Glasgow against the invasion of Iraq... as implemented by Labour's Tony Blair! Of course we were on the same side of that momentous movement as Jeremy Corbyn. 

The SSP has protested with others against renewal of Trident, demanding the £200bn squandered on weapons of mass annihilation be spent instead on the NHS; green energy schemes; schools; public housing and transport. 
We have always – in common with SCND and the STUC – advocated jobs diversification, to peaceful, socially productive use of workers’ skills… schemes that would vastly expand jobs, not threaten them.
Under Jeremy’s leadership, Labour’s ‘For the Many’ manifesto commits a Labour government to renewal of Trident. An incredible abandonment of the struggle to stop £200bn being squandered on weapons of mass murder.

Appeasing the Blairite Enemy 
Since this stance contradicts Corbyn’s lifelong opposition to nuclear weapons, it can only be seen as yet another attempt to appease and pacify the Blairites who still infest Labour’s ranks - especially amongst its MPs and Scottish leadership. 
One of many such futile concessions by Corbyn’s leadership to the pro-capitalist, anti-socialist Blairites in the past two years. All in vain; they are still busy plotting to undermine and overthrow Jeremy, emboldened by the capitalists and their media.



The Democratic Right to Self-government 
In the Scottish Referendum, Scottish Labour alienated hundreds of thousands of workers and young people by their shameless collaboration with the reviled Tories in Better Together. 
That Tory-funded, Labour-fronted lie machine confused enough people to ensure we now suffer several more years of ruthless Tory rule from Westminster.
In stark contrast, the SSP championed the aim of an independent socialist Scotland - a different vision entirely from the pro-capitalist aims of the SNP.

In the 2017 general election, Labour focused all its fire on the SNP, relentlessly denouncing independence – letting the Tories off scot free for their crucifying assaults on ‘the many’. Scottish Labour leaders advocated tactical voting against the SNP… which meant voting Tory in some areas! 
This concrete expression of Labour’s denial of the democratic right to self-determination for the Scottish people helped the Scottish Tory vote leap 5,500 per seat. Scottish Labour only gained 1%. It helped May cling onto power. 

Labour continues to deny the Scottish people the right to self-determination - unfortunately not only Dugdale and the Blairities, but also Corbyn and his allies. In Corbyn Labour's recent 'For the Many' manifesto, there is no room left for doubt: "we will campaign tirelessly to ensure Scotland remains part of the UK." 
Left-wingers in Scottish Labour who wax lyrical about the right to self-determination for other nations and nationalities across the globe deny that democratic right to the people of Scotland. 

Who are Labour's Chief Enemies?
Even Jeremy's chosen itinerary for his current speaking tour of Scotland - clearly putting Labour on an election footing in case the enfeebled Tory government falters - is very telling. He and Labour have decided to make a pitch in SNP marginal seats, but not gone near a single one of the Tory marginals in Scotland.
You don't have to be an apologist for the SNP (and I'm certainly not one!) to point out that surely the priority should be to drive the Tories out - by popularizing socialist arguments and mobilizing working class voters - in order to defend working class conditions, rather than continue to turn Labour's guns on the SNP? 
This speaking tour is a softened version of the Labour focus of attacking the SNP rather than the Tories in the recent general election campaign. And meantime, the hapless Kezia Dugdale only seems to become animated in the media when she blasts the idea of Scottish independence, at every given (or invented) opportunity. 


Independence and Socialism 
Failure to call for independence - but give it a distinctive socialist content, for an independent SOCIALIST Scotland, for the millions, not the millionaires - is the Achilles heel of Labour, even if Jeremy’s influence spreads to Scotland. 
It alienates people attracted to Corbyn's social and economic policies, all too often driving them into the arms of the SNP, a party committed to the continuation of rule by profiteering big business, with its track record on privatisation of ferries, hospitals and the business wing of Scottish Water as living examples of this capitalist ideology. 

As one woman expressed it at a recent Scottish Socialist Voice forum on socialism and independence, she and other SNP members "suffer cognitive dissonance, because I'm a socialist attracted to Corbyn's ideals, find the SNP too right wing on economic policies, but want independence". And as I responded at the time, there's a ready-made cure for that condition: the unequivocal socialism AND pro-independence stance of the SSP! 

The Hand of Solidarity in Action 
The SSP offers the hand of friendship and solidarity in action to those looking to Corbyn for change. We appeal to Corbyn supporters to arrange meetings with the SSP to discuss serious battle plans around our common aims - £10 minimum wage; abolition of zero hours contracts; rail renationalisation, etc.
But we also appeal to 'Corbynistas' to look ahead at the harsh choices that loom

Labour Civil War 
Scottish Labour faces an existential crisis that spells prolonged strife, civil war, and subsequent diminished electoral prospects.
The Scottish leadership will not cease to wage civil war against Corbyn and his left ideals.

They will be backed and boosted in their treacherous sabotage by a capitalist class and media terrified at the thought of a left-leaning Prime Minister, and the expectations and demands for radical change which that would unleash amongst workers and young people.
These forces of capitalist backwardness have no intention of reversing the transformation of Labour into the reliable agency for billionaires and bankers - the bastion against socialism - it was moulded into by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Brutal Choices 
So Corbyn supporters face brutal choices. Purge Labour of its capitalist wing (including deselection of MPs, MSPs and councillors) to begin to construct the embryo of a socialist party. Or continue retreat after retreat in a vain attempt to appease the right - as unfortunately Jeremy has tried for two years. 

The other critical choice confronting 'Corbynistas' is this: continue to alienate huge swathes of the Scottish people by opposing self-government. Or join with the SSP campaigning for an independent socialist Scotland, as part of an alliance of socialist democracies across Europe. 
Thereby uphold democratic and socialist principles, but also win over radicalized workers and youth to the socialist banner, instead of them being fooled by the fake radicalism of the SNP leadership.

Scottish Labour a Million Miles from Socialism
The central problem facing those mobilized by Jeremy's laudable, left-wing aims is that Scottish Labour is a million miles removed from being a socialist party.
To begin to transform it into one would require naked, full-scale civil war in the party.

Why devote time and talent to what may well be a fruitless attempt to oust Labour's pro-capitalist right wing, or spend years trying to fashion genuine socialist policies in a Labour party which, historically, has never in government pursued comprehensive socialist measures anyway? 

No Westminster Road to Socialism 
Experience proves there is no Westminster road to socialism; it's one of many institutions designed to block socialist change. 
You only have to examine the history of Labour in government - even its most left-wing variants - to see the truth of that. And any reforms, such the NHS, that were won through Westminster Labour governments, were the result not of parliamentary debate but of mass struggles outside parliament. 
In the aftermath of the conscious demolition of most of the nationalized industries of the past, and the removal of any substantial influence for workers' unions in the decision-making structures of Labour, there is far less prospect of radical change through that Westminster route than at any time in modern history. 

Exclusions of Socialists 
Labour's history is littered with unfulfilled promises, anti-working class measures - and expulsions of socialists for being socialists, including many of us now in the leadership of the SSP! 
Even since the extremely welcome election (twice over) of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader - as an expression of an uprising against austerity, a similar phenomenon to the mass Yes movement in Scotland in 2012-14 - the Labour machine is still busy expelling and excluding socialists. And even some of the pro-Corbyn Momentum grouping are implicated in these maneuvers - hardly a harbinger of the outright socialist transformation of the Labour Party, let alone of society! 



Join With the SSP... and Join the SSP! 
My appeal to those in Scotland attracted by Corbyn is two-fold. 

Combine with Scotland's existing socialist party, the SSP, in joint campaigns on immediate priority issues such as a £10 minimum now; democratic public ownership of rail and transport; opposition to all cuts at council or national level; and for an independent socialist Scotland.

And consider joining Scotland's already existing socialist party, the SSP, with already existing socialist policies (which you can also influence and shape at our annual conferences), and an annually elected socialist leadership.

Scottish Labour not Socialist - and Wrong in Opposing Self-government 
The time, talent and hopes of large numbers whose sights have been raised by Jeremy Corbyn will be dashed on the rocks of brutal civil war inside Scottish Labour if they imagine it is on the brink of morphing itself from watered-down Toryism to the vehicle of socialist change. 
And whilst it's a radical breath of fresh air compared with the stale, capitalist dogma of past Labour leaders and manifestos, Jeremy's 'For the Many' manifesto is still very modest, gradualist, and lacking in the full-blown plans for socialist change that this exploitative, unequal society screams out for. 
On top of which it is simply wrong and alienating for vast hordes of the Scottish people in its crude, unbending opposition to independence - not even upholding the right to self-government, let alone recognizing that in modern Scotland, socialism and independence go hand in hand. 

Scotland needs Socialism - not Labour Civil War 
Jeremy Corbyn has revived interest in socialist ideas for masses of people. But the natural home for people inspired by his message is NOT Scottish Labour. Far better to add to the existing socialist forces organised in the party with 20 years of unstinting dedication to socialism in Scotland, the SSP. 

Why throw yourself into naked civil war to try and overcome Scottish Labour's entrenched, anti-socialist machine - with no guarantees of success, as they've alienated so many of the most radical workers and young people, making it harder to recruit fresh left-wing fighters? 
Why not instead throw your energy and ideas into building the strength of a party whose entire membership and leadership are already unashamedly socialist?