Scotland

Caledonian Sleeper struggle

Workers on the Caledonian Sleeper service concluded an 11-day strike for better pay on 26 June. Their bosses have imposed a pay freeze, in line with demands from the Tories for an industry-wide freeze on railway workers’ pay. The strike was extremely effective, with all Sleeper services cancelled. However, subsidies from the Scottish government have protected Serco, which operates the service, from the strike’s economic impact. Labour movement activists must plan action targeting the government, and ask why the Scottish National Party, which claims to be pro-trade union, is helping a...

"Questions of democracy are where to focus our energies"

Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South, spoke to Sacha Ismail in late March 2021. For an interview Clive did with us in March 2020, see here. There could still be another 30,000 deaths as we approach the end of lockdown, and maybe much more. Even with the vaccine program at full tilt, in the absence of a proper test and trace system, an isolation system and social support for people, it’s still potentially a dire situation and could still overwhelm the NHS. [This was even before the "Indian variant" of Covid was widely discussed.] NHS workers have launched their demand for a 15% pay rise. Do...

Sleeper strike going strong

Workers on the Caledonian Sleeper, operated by Serco, are continuing an 11-day strike for improved pay and conditions. Nightly pickets are well supported, and link up with each other via Zoom. We spoke to a striker in Glasgow:




Support for the strike in Glasgow and the rest of Scotland is...

Sleeper battle continues with ban

The 11-day strike by RMT rail union members on the Caledonian Sleeper service finishes on 26 June. One of the strikers on the picket line in Glasgow spoke to Solidarity. Support for the strike in Glasgow and the rest of Scotland is excellent. It is a dispute which we did not seek. All we want is a level of fairness from the employer, Serco, which runs the sleeper service. Serco’s Chief Executive had his pay increased to £4.9 million last year. Serco has paid out £17 million to its shareholders. But then Serco turns round to us and tell us we’re not getting a penny. This shows contempt for a...

Kino Eye: A really bad film

For a change, a really bad film: Mel Gibson’s Braveheart (1995). Usually, I only recommend films that I like and are interesting. Dale Street’s article on a possible second Scottish Referendum prompted me to think of films featuring Scottish nationalism. The one film that outshines all the others, but primarily because of its ignorance and stupidity, is Mel Gibson’s Braveheart. Take the well-known poster of William Wallace (played by Gibson) with blue face-paint and kilt. Scottish warriors stopped wearing blue face-paint many hundred years before and hadn’t yet adopted the kilt. The English...

Scotland and the "second referendum"

The SNP victory – or SNP-Green victory – in the Holyrood election of 6 May 2021 was a mandate for a second referendum on Scottish independence. The fact that the SNP did not get an absolute majority of seats or an absolute majority of the popular vote is irrelevant. The Holyrood voting system is designed to stop one party gaining an absolute majority of seats (and the SNP fell only seat short of that). And no one ever argued that the 1945 Labour government had no mandate because it failed to win 50% of the popular vote. The elections held on 6 May also strengthened Sturgeon’s position in three...

McVitie's factory: more strategy needed

Around 250 people turned up on 22 May for a rally protesting the proposed closure of the McVitie’s biscuit factory in the East End of Glasgow. The focus of the campaign against closure is a cross-party alliance to demand intervention by the Scottish Government to guarantee the factory’s future. Having the local Tory councillor denounce Pladis (owners of McVitie’s) for treating the workforce with contempt probably helps build confidence (“everyone is on our side”). But, for obvious reasons, it also lacks credibility. Demanding intervention by the Scottish Government also makes sense. Some 700...

"Spontaneity with roots": how protest blocked deportations in Glasgow

Paul, a socialist activist in Glasgow who took part in the successful action which stopped an immigration raid on 12 May, spoke to us about what happened. At some point that morning a Home Office van appeared in Kenmure Street in Pollokshields, and took two men out of their flat and bundled them into a van. I don’t know who saw it first, but a lot of the activist community in Southside is clued into issues around the Home Office and asylum-seekers. There’s a tradition in recent years of resistance to the eviction of asylum-seekers. Someone made Facebook posts to tell their friends to spread...

NHS pay after Scotland

As expected, the majority of NHS union members and trade unions in Scotland have voted in consultative ballots to accept the 4% pay offer. Members of Unison, Unite, and the smaller profession-based unions such as the RCM and CSP voted to accept. 85% of those voting in Unison, the biggest union, accepted. GMB and RCN members rejected in line with their leaderships’ recommendations. The Scottish government quickly announced it would be implementing the deal with no further negotiation, and it looks unlikely that the rejecting unions will seriously oppose this. Although not quite meeting the...

Scotland: a weak Labour campaign

Sections of the media and the right wing of Scottish Labour have hailed Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar for having run “a good campaign” in the 6 May Scottish election. But Scottish Labour lost seats in the election, and ended up with a (slightly) lower share of constituency and regional list votes. Its overall score of 20% was only slightly higher than its poll ratings before Sarwar became leader. Sarwar did not make any election gaffes and was articulate in the televised party leader debates. But the lack of improvement is the surprising thing, given that between 2017 (when Richard...

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