Monday, 14 August 2017


Victories for the working class, our unions, our rights at work, are nearly as rare as people of conscience in the Tory Cabinet! 

So it's all the more justified that we celebrate the recent abolition of Employment Tribunal fees, as ruled unanimously by the seven Supreme Court judges. They deprived the Tories and LibDems of a fourth birthday party for the pernicious measure they jointly imposed in July 2013. 

Under mounting pressure from the trade union movement, and growing public fury, the upper-class judges abolished forthwith the fees of £1,200 payable before workers could even get a Tribunal hearing on cases of unfair dismissal, discrimination, or equal pay.
And the £1,600 payable to seek an Employment Appeals Tribunal hearing; to challenge any of the 50% of ET cases that go against workers, or the incredible 78% of all ET cases on discrimination - potentially the most important, involving the biggest compensation - which rule on the side of employers. 

This decision was the result of three years of legal challenges by UNISON, and widespread public support, as expressed in the response to Jeremy Corbyn's promise to  scrap the fees - ending years of criminal negligence by Labour, who merely promised to reduce the fees. 

Build on Employment Tribunals Victory 

This outcome underlines the potential power for progressive change possessed by the organised trade union movement. It answers the doubters and sceptics, who surrender under the battle-cry, "There's nothing we can do".

Now we need to push for far more sweeping changes, actually mobilizing the solidarity in action of workers and their unions, demanding a full-blown Charter of Workers' Rights.   

Not by waiting for some Messiah, but by motivating and mobilizing the millions of workers and their communities; utilizing the unified power of our class against the capitalist class and their political mouthpieces. 

And not just demanding it as a futile propaganda exercise towards the stone-faced Westminster puppets of capitalist rule; we might as well appeal to the stone statue of Churchill as await the Westminster road to workers' rights.
We need to target the far more accessible and susceptible Scottish government, and the 32 Scottish local authorities, with such demands. 

Unite for a Charter of Workers' Rights 

The SSP is more than eager to unite in action with supporters of other parties and none; trade unionists, young people, community groups; anyone willing to demand a Charter of Workers' Rights that could begin to transform the lives of the millions - unashamedly at the expense of the millionaires - both at work, at home and in our communities. 

By no means an exhaustive package, this could include the following:

Full rights at work from day one. 
Not 'equal rights', as demanded by Jeremy Corbyn's For the Many, Not the Few manifesto - which would include equal exclusion from the right to an Employment Tribunal hearing on unfair dismissal for the first 2 years in a job. 
Full rights, from day one, whether part-time, full-time, temporary, agency, etc.

The right to organise, strike and take solidarity action with fellow workers - and on so-called political issues, like privatisation or cuts - without fear of victimisation. 
This would require repeal of all the anti-union, anti-worker laws, introduced by Thatcher's Tories, retained by 13 years of Labour government, made even more repressive by the Tories and their LibDem coalition partners. Not just the welcome, but extremely limited pledge by Corbyn to repeal the 2016 (anti-) Trade Union Act, but all 30-years' worth of repressive laws. 

A guaranteed, well-paid, secure job for all on leaving school or college. 
Scotland's teenage model, Govan shipyard worker's son Connor Newall, told Radio Scotland that if he wasn't blessed with a career with cameras shooting at him he'd be in the army being shot at in wars. That captures the criminal lack of decent jobs, contrary to the vast array of work that needs doing to build a decent society. 

We should demand action - not pious platitudes - from the Scottish government and local councils to create hundreds of thousands of decent jobs, for instance by building social sector houses for rent; expanding education and public transport; investing in an NHS fit for the 21st century; ensuring free, quality social care services; developing a vast new, publicly-owned green energy industry.

A legally-enforced living minimum wage set at two-thirds male median earnings - for all over 16, with equal pay for women. 
Wages have been systematically driven down, to boost profits, and to cut public spending. Wages have stagnated and declined at the worst rate since the Napoleonic Wars. 

We should demand this guaranteed living minimum wage, legally enforced, which would mean over £10-an-hour here and now. Not three years hence in 2020, as promised by Jeremy Corbyn's manifesto; and not just for those over 18, as it says - but for all over 16, as consistently fought for by the SSP for the past 20 years. 

And if Labour or SNP MSPs and councillors are serious about a living wage, demand they here and now declare a voluntary £10 Living Wage for all workers they directly employ, plus issue public contracts only to firms implementing £10 minimum - pending their return in-house. 

Demand back the funding off Westminster and Holyrood to pay a minimum of £10-an-hour to the half-a-million workers employed by central and local government. 

A guaranteed 16-hour contract; ban all zero hours contracts. 
The SSP has pioneered this policy, to cater for those who prefer part-time work, but to banish the curse of casual, insecure contracts. Legally oblige all employers to guarantee a minimum 16 hours-a-week, unless a worker requests lesser hours, accompanied by their union rep. 

Demand the Scottish government and local authorities set the pace by introducing this 16-hour guarantee for their 500,000 workers. 

A guaranteed warm, weather-tight, affordable home for all, built to the highest environmental standards in Europe.
End the scandal of 157,000 families in Scotland languishing on the waiting list. Build 100,000 new social sector homes for rent over the 4-year parliament. Create tens of thousands of well-paid construction jobs and apprenticeships. Combat fuel poverty and pollution by building and renovating to the best standards of insulation and green housing technology in Europe. 

Guarantee a living state pension, with voluntary retirement at 55 for men and women. 
Reverse the creeping abolition of the state pension - the worst as a share of average wages in Europe! Give workers a genuine lifestyle choice between working and retiring on a living pension - based on the national minimum wage - immediately at 60, rapidly moving to 55. This would give concrete content to the "review of pensions" in Corbyn's manifesto. 

Guarantee free public transport for all, through immediate, democratic public ownership.
End the crimes of train fares rising twice the rate of wage increases since 2010; reverse the spread of safety-threatening Driver Only Operations; chaos and cuts on the privatised buses; mounting pollution and spreading social isolation. 

The SSP campaigns for immediate public ownership of our railways - not the gradual, piecemeal, potentially chaotic return to the public sector "as [separate] franchises expire", as Jeremy Corbyn's For the Many manifesto pledges. And for investment in an integrated, fare-free public transport network.
A modern solution to pollution and poverty. 

Demand More, Far More
The significant victory on Employment Tribunal fees should embolden workers to demand more, far more. 

The appeal of Jeremy Corbyn's radical-sounding social and economic policies should encourage us to demand more, far more, than his very modest manifesto policies actually advocate. 

The potential power of organised unions - held back for decades by vicious laws, use of the weapon of fear by employers, and cowardly trade union leaderships - should now be unleashed to reverse the tide of attacks on our rights and livelihoods. 

Join the SSP in demanding a concerted, broad campaign - rooted in the unions and community campaigns - for a far-reaching Charter of Workers' Rights. 

Help to make Scotland a place that puts people before profit; the 5.3 million people before the ten billionaires who own the same £30billion as the entire annual Scottish government budget. 

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