Wednesday, 22 November 2017


Part of SSP National Day of Action 18 November  

As the Scottish government and 32 local councils prepare their Budgets for 2018/19, the Scottish Socialist Party has launched a new campaigning drive for an immediate minimum £10 Living Wage to be written into 'No Cuts' Budgets. 

This is an urgent, realistic demand, well within the powers of Holyrood and the local authorities - who between them employ 500,000 workers - and a potentially powerful breakthrough in the battle for a £10 minimum wage, here and now, for all workers over 16, with equal pay for women. 

"I'm for Austerity - Get me out of here!"

If SNP, Labour, or any other MSPs and councillors reject this demand - alongside reversing seven years of the income-slashing pay cap, plus protection of every single service - they should be rejected and evicted by voters. 

To amend the slogan currently made 'popular' by Kezia Dugdale, such axe-wielding politicians should admit: "I'm for austerity, get me out of here!"

There's absolutely no excuse for one, single person suffering the indignity, deprivation and inhumanity of being impoverished in such a rich country. Scotland has ten billionaires, piles of profit, enormous resources and skilled workers. It's a question of radically redistributing the wealth. 

Paradise for the Parasites

This battle is set in the midst of paradise for the profiteers, and hell on earth for millions struggling to survive in a sea of poverty. 

The recently leaked 'Paradise Papers' confirmed the grotesque, legalized robbery of the rest of us by the rich, with conservative estimates of big business and obscenely rich individuals hiding over £30trillion in offshore tax havens. 

Corporations like Apple and Nike are in the company of tax thieves like Bono and the Queen; dodging taxes, robbing society of £billions, stealing wages, pensions, benefits and public services off the working class. 

A full 80% of all offshore wealth is in the hands of a minuscule 0.1% of the population (that's one in 1,000). 

Multinational businesses shifted $600billion to these (overwhelmingly British) offshore tax havens last year alone. 

The PCS civil service union's research has already shown £120billion every year is dodged in taxes by the rich and big business - the equivalent of four years of Scotland's block grant budget from Westminster. 

Tales of Poverty Amidst Plenty

This legalized, systematic theft helps create a living hell of plummeting pay, life-threatening benefit cuts, and decimation of vital public services. 

Socialist exaggeration? Absolutely not! Anyone in touch with the conditions of the working class majority will testify to the mounting desperation amongst the poorest; the inability of even middle-income workers to match the rising cost of living; and the ticking time-bomb of mental ill-health created by impossible workloads and stress from poverty and debt.

Let's sample just a few examples. 

The one million people in Scotland officially below the poverty line, 52% of them in jobs, working to stay poor. 

The 'hunger-watch' scheme initiated by the EIS teachers' union two years ago, to help spot children unable to concentrate because of literal hunger. 

The equivalent of Dundee city's population who swallowed their pride and turned to food banks in Scotland last year to avert starvation. 

The welfare rights workers who are on the brink of physical and mental collapse with overwork and the harrowing daily experience of desperation amongst clients: the man working 60 hours a week as a taxi just to pay the mortgage and feed his child after his marriage ended; the blind man removed from sickness benefits, relying on his son's income from one or two shifts a week on a zero hours contract, while he waits since June for his benefits appeal, which drove him to attempted suicide. 

The fact teachers' real pay has fallen by 16%, and the EIS union describes teachers' massive workload - working 50-60 hours a week - as having "desperate effects on their health and well-being." 

Heart-breaking human stories are accompanied by chilling statistics. A new LSE Report calculates that since the June 2016 EU referendum and subsequent plunge in the value of Sterling - pushing up prices of items with a high import content, such as food - the average Scottish worker has lost £404 a year in wages. On top of the 10.8% fall in real wages since the banking crisis of 2008. 

Demand Action from the Anti-Tory Parties  

Hell will freeze over before the Tories start looking after the wellbeing of the millions, as opposed to the profits and privileges of the millionaires. So it's right - and urgent - that we demand action from those politicians closest to the ground in Scotland, who also like to define themselves as anti-austerity. 

The SNP helped win its historic landslide by denouncing austerity. That was the key platform of Jeremy Corbyn in his defeat of New Labour leadership candidates, with their record of implementing austerity. Latterly, Richard Leonard tried to echo his opposition to cuts.

We want words made into deeds by Scotland's anti-Tory parties.

That's why the SSP - who since September 2014 have campaigned in the streets and trade unions for an immediate, statutory £10 minimum for all over 16, with equal pay for women - is stepping up pressure on the SNP Holyrood government and Labour and SNP councillors. 

That's why the SSP held a National Day of Action on the Baltic Saturday 18 November,  demanding a guarantee that from April 2018, nobody these governments directly or indirectly employs would be trying to survive on anything less than £10 an hour.

SSP members braved the bitter cold to hold street stalls and street meetings in Glasgow's Partick and Govan; Nairn; Edinburgh; East Kilbride; Paisley; Cumbernauld; Coatbridge and Irvine. 

We met the man who simply stated: "I looked at an old wage slip from 15 years ago, and there's very little difference in my earnings now."

The Richmond Fellowship care worker who was furious at being on £7.50 an hour, unable to afford a holiday, when she has dedicated herself for years to a job she loves, caring for the most vulnerable.

People scrimping and saving simply to pay the rent and buy food. 

Braving the Baltic conditions in Nairn on SSP Day of Action

Demand 'No Cuts' Defiance Budgets

Local authority workers expressed their anxiety at yet more cuts looming in the forthcoming council budgets. Which is why our campaigning demand for councillors to defy austerity, set No Cuts Budgets, with the £10 minimum included, and then fight for the funds to do this, is so timely and important. 

No councillors - whether Labour or SNP - should be prepared to trade wages for jobs, or workers' conditions for public services. Yet that's what they've done for years. And unless the unions, STUC and community campaigns unite in decisive action with socialists, and demand the cash off Westminster and Holyrood, a repeat of the Ice Age of cuts to pay, public services and jobs looms large.

COSLA Cuts Warnings

The council umbrella body, COSLA, has just produced a frightening picture of the choices we face, ahead of the SNP government's draft Budget in December, which in turn sets the spending settlements for Council Budgets.

COSLA reiterates that there's been £1.4billion cuts by councils since 2012, with 30,000 people losing their jobs, and communities priced out of facilities and services by the 13% hike in charges - often the hidden form of austerity. 

The same COSLA document warns that to just stand still - not improve people's lives, but merely hold onto the brutally inadequate provision by councils we have now - the Scottish government needs to allocate an extra £545million to councils for 2018/19 - a 5.7% increase in funding. 

The response of the SNP government so far? "We will continue to treat local government fairly." Continue? Last year's SNP/Scottish Greens Budget slashed another £170m off council funding, adding to successive years of butchery. 

Wield Power of Unions  

We can't rely on the powers of pleading - or resort to prayer - to win the funds which protect jobs, conditions, public services... and also guarantee a £10 minimum as part of a pay compensation package for the 7 years of pay cuts suffered by 500,000 public sector workers. It requires a serious, united fight, wielding the potential power of workers, their unions and their communities.
The Battle for BiFab in Fife and Lewis wasn't won (at least until April) by humble pleas to the employers or government. It was won by brave, united and swift action by the workforce - refusing to leave their jobs; defending the fabrication yards from asset-strippers by union control of the gates; stockpiling resources in preparation for outright occupations - and by telling the authorities they weren't budging. 

Workers' Action Against Austerity 

That's the spirit and method needed to stop the slaughter of services, jobs and pay that has crucified workers and communities alike, as we pay for the bailout of the bankers and billionaires' profits. 

We won't win the modest, increasingly inadequate demand for £10 now - nor replacement of the abomination of zero hours contracts with a guaranteed 16-hour minimum contract for all who want it - without a mighty battle involving street protests, demos and coordinated strike action, putting the politicians and employers on the spot. 

The SSP's street action on 18 November is just the prelude to an orchestrated campaign of explanation and pressure on the Scottish government and councils to put their money where their mouths are. 

The SSP will step up this demand for an immediate £10 in our unions as well as on the streets. 

Sign and Share the Online Petition 

The Online Petition I recently launched on behalf of the SSP is targeting demands for action on Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and the heads of COSLA, but also Richard Leonard, who we correctly anticipated would become the new Scottish Labour leader. 

Richard's victory speech referred to offering 'hope' to the Scottish people. Here's his chance: we are calling on him to instruct his Labour Party councillors to break the habits of several decades and refuse to vote for a single penny in cuts, and instead inspire public sector AND private sector workers by implementing a £10 Living Wage immediately - not in 2020, as Labour has so far pledged, which will be severely devalued by inflation by then. 

Photo by Craig Maclean

Volunteer to Help Win £10 Now! 

We have no intention of making this campaign a one-day wonder. 

We need more street campaigning; more propositions for this policy and for action in the public sector unions; more volunteers to do all this... and we need thousands of signatures on our Online Petition. 

Please get in touch to play your part in this battle to set the pace in the public sector, transform the lives of tens of thousands of workers - and vastly boost the battle for an immediate, legally-enforced £10 minimum, rising with inflation, for all workers across the land. 


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