Scotland

Construction workers' sit-down safety strike

Author: 

Darren Bedford

Nearly 1,000 construction workers at a gas plant in Shetland staged a sit-down strike in their workplace canteen on Monday 21 July, over safety concerns.

Nearly 1,000 construction workers at a gas plant in Shetland staged a sit-down strike over safety concerns.

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We all belong to Glasgow

Author: 

Charlotte Seleus

The Glasgow girls, are a group of school students from Drumchapel High School in Glasgow, who in 2005 took it upon themselves to campaign for the release of their friend Agnesa Murselaj, a Roma girl from Kosovo who was detained by immigration police in a dawn raid.

Agnesa’s whole family were placed in Yarls Wood detention centre and faced deportation back to a country where Roma people faced persecution.

A review of Glasgow Girls (15 July, BBC3).

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Glasgow Council workers face down anti-union bosses

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Anne Field

Unison members employed by Glasgow Life, an “arms-length company” set up by Glasgow City Council, staged a series of protests last week to highlight their employer’s treatment of them as a second-class workforce.

Workers at Glasgow City Council are taking on anti-union employers during the Commonwealth Games.

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The Monthly Survey

Socialists must support Scottish self-determination (Dale Street)
Labours maundy money (Martin Thomas)
The Fragile Middle East peace (Mike Fenwick)
TUC leaders bow down to Blair

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Industrial news in brief

Workers at the Ritzy cinema in Brixton, London are balloting for more strikes. The campaign is gathering momentum but management are still refusing to negotiate on demands for the London Living Wage. Workers have struck three times in the last three weeks.

Students support Lambeth College strike

The dispute at Lambeth College between workers and management continues. UCU members at the college are fighting against reduced terms and conditions for new workers, as well as threats to the conditions of current staff.

Brixton Ritzy cinema strike; students support Lambeth College strike; Church of Scotland workers strike.

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Farage in Scotland

Over 300 activists turned up last Friday (9th May) to protest at a visit to Edinburgh by UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

Farage’s last visit to Scotland – in May of last year – ended in a fiasco for the UKIP leader after protestors trapped him in a pub on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and police had to be called in to rescue him.

This time Farage managed to avoid the same fate by bringing with him his own security team and creeping into the venue for his press conference and (very poorly attended) ‘rally’ through a rear entrance.

Farrage visits Scotland and avoids getting an egging.

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Right on Scottish independence, but for the wrong reasons

“It is difficult to decide which camp in the Scottish independence debate makes the stronger case for voting the opposite way,” were the sensible opening words in the 21 February editorial in the Morning Star.

In recent weeks, the editorial pointed out, “some dire weakness in the SNP-led Yes campaign have been ruthlessly exposed.”

From a socialist perspective, the arguments put forward in support of an independent Scotland make little or no sense (and the more “radical” the arguments, the less sense they make).

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Ineos sacks union convenor

Unite convenor Mark Lyon was sacked by Ineos at Grangemouth last week.

His dismissal follows the resignation three months ago of another Unite convenor, Stevie Deans, after a witch-hunt based on collusion between Ineos, the police, the media and the Tories (with some assistance from people in Labour).

According to a statement issued by Unite:

“Mr Lyon’s sacking comes in the face of significant medical evidence that he is suffering from a serious stress-related illness as a result of the treatment he has endured at the hands of the company.”

Unite convenor Mark Lyon was sacked by Ineos at Grangemouth last week.

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Edinburgh College workers plan indefinite strikes

Lecturers at Edinburgh's largest college plan indefinite strike action to stop attacks on their conditions at work.

Lecturers at Edinburgh's largest college plan indefinite strike action to stop attacks on their conditions at work.

Members of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) have announced an escalated programme of strikes, beginning with a strike on 6 February (coinciding with the national Higher Education workers' strike in their pay dispute), followed by two days the following week, and three days each week after that. Their union is offering strike pay at a rate of 50% of normal salary for all strikes after 6 February.

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Stalinism on the Clyde

Shortly after Harry McShane’s death in 1988 the Marxist historian Ray Challinor wrote:

““Your readers will remember the famous picture of Lenin addressing an open-air meeting in Moscow. On the steps of the rostrum stood Trotsky. But subsequently, when the picture was republished, Trotsky’s figure had been removed.”

At the end of his life Harry McShane had, to his credit, rejected Stalinism; but the story of his years as a Communist Party cadre still needs to be told.

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Independence-lite or class-struggle heavy?

Back in July of this year, a senior aide to SNP First Minister Alex Salmond briefed the media that Salmond “would not object to the term ‘independence-lite’ as a description of what was on offer at next year’s referendum.”

The publication of the SNP government’s White Paper “Scotland’s Future — Your Guide to an Independent Scotland” on 26 November confirmed that. The Queen will remain Head of State. Scotland will remain a member of the European Union. Scotland will remain a member of Nato. And the pound sterling will remain the currency.

Back in July of this year, a senior aide to SNP First Minister Alex Salmond briefed the media that Salmond “would not object to the term ‘independence-lite’ as a description of what was on offer at next year’s referendum.”

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Hacks and rats

A decade ago the Scottish Sunday Herald had a circulation of over 60,000. But now it has sunk lower than 25,000. A decade ago Paul Hutcheon was an investigative reporter. But now he just hunts with the pack.

Could the decline in the paper’s circulation be related to the decline in the quality of its journalism?

“Leading Labour MSP Urged to Resign After Taking Part in Unite Demo Outside Director’s House,” read the headline above an article by Hutcheon last Sunday.

A non-story about a man who stood next to a giant inflatable rat over five weeks ago? It’s hardly investigative journalism. In fact, it’s not even news.

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The role of leverage

We continue our discussion of the lessons of the Grangemouth defeat. Here, a contribution from Mark Best discusses how Unite’s “Organising and Leverage Department” can help win disputes.


Football pundits are fond of pointing out that it is not so much the defeat itself that teaches you anything meaningful about a team, but how they react to it in the matches that follow. Much the same could be said about Unite and the left following Grangemouth.

We continue our discussion of the lessons for organised labour and the left from the defeat at the Grangemouth oil refinery.

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Hicks and the witch hunt

Another Sunday, another issue of the Sunday Times, another attack on Unite (on pages 1, 4, 16, 17, and 33).

But this time Jerry Hicks — three-time general secretary candidate, founder of “Grass Roots Left” in Unite, and now a leading figure in the new “Unite Grass Roots Rank and File” — has given a helping hand.

Hicks later backpedalled, and stressed that he was opposed to any attempt to use the complaint he has made over Unite’s general secretary election in a witch hunt against the union. But that was all too little, too late — and singularly unconvincing.

Another issue of the Sunday Times, another attack on Unite. But this time Jerry Hicks — three-time general secretary candidate, founder of “Grass Roots Left” in Unite and now a leading figure in the new “Unite Grass Roots Rank and File” — has given a helping hand.

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The left on Grangemouth

The Unite union’s defeat by Ineos at the Grangemouth oil refinery and petrochemicals plant in Scotland merits serious analysis and discussion by socialist organisations. We need to understand what happened and draw appropriate lessons in order to minimise the risk of such defeats in future.

The Unite union’s defeat by Ineos at the Grangemouth oil refinery and petrochemicals plant in Scotland merits serious analysis and discussion by socialist organisations. We need to understand what happened and draw appropriate lessons in order to minimise the risk of such defeats in future.

Much of the left press has been desperate to spin a narrative of a militant workforce champing at the bit to take radical action, but being held back (and, ultimately, stitched up and sold out) by a capitulatory bureaucracy.

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Lessons from the Grangemouth defeat

It wasn’t just the Ineos workforce in Grangemouth or Unite the Union which suffered a major defeat last month. It was all of us in the trade union movement.

It wasn’t just the Ineos workforce in Grangemouth or Unite the Union which suffered a major defeat last month. It was all of us in the trade union movement.

Ineos workers will see their basic pay frozen until the end of 2016. There will be no bonus payments until then either. The shift allowance is being cut from £10,000 to £7,500. Overtime rates and holiday entitlements are being cut, and staffing levels are likely to be cut as well.

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How the media attacked our movement

It’s been a busy week for media hacks who hate trade unionists. And what better opportunity for hacks to vent their spleen than the fallout from the Ineos dispute in Grangemouth?

The Sunday Times (27 October) led the way with lengthy articles about the contents of e-mails sent or received by former Unite Ineos convenor Stevie Deans.

It’s been a busy week for media hacks who hate trade unionists. And what better opportunity for hacks to vent their spleen than the fallout from the Ineos dispute in Grangemouth?

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More lessons from Grangemouth

The recent debacle surrounding the dispute at the Ineos petrochemicals plant at Grangemouth in Scotland could represent a significant defeat for the trade union movement. It certainly is a debilitating setback and an embarrassing climbdown. It raises some very worrying questions for socialists.

A further contribution to a discussion on the lessons of the defeat at the Grangemouth oil refinery.

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Understanding the Grangemouth defeat

Over the coming days we will be publishing responses to the Grangemouth defeat as part of a discussion on what socialists can learn from it. For some background, see here.


The enormity of the defeat suffered by Unite at Ineos in Grangemouth is virtually impossible to exaggerate.

A contribution to an ongoing discussion about the defeat suffered by organised labour at the Grangemouth oil refinery in Scotland.

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Unions rally around sacked organiser

A mailing was sent out last week to all Trades Union Councils in Scotland, calling on them to adopt policy condemning the dismissal of Stan Crooke as the Transport Salaried Staffs Association’s (TSSA) Scottish Regional Organiser and demanding his reinstatement.

The TSSA is a small union mainly based on the railways ,with 22,000 members (but four Assistant General Secretaries). Stan Crooke was summarily dismissed in July of this year, although he was not informed of the outcome of his appeal until September.

A mailing was sent out last week to all Trades Union Councils in Scotland, calling on them to adopt policy condemning the dismissal of Stan Crooke as the Transport Salaried Staffs Association’s (TSSA) Scottish Regional Organiser and demanding his reinstatement.

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Occupy Grangemouth! For public ownership and workers' control to stop closure!

On the morning of 23 October, Ineos bosses at the Grangemouth oil refinery in Scotland announced that the petrochemical plant within the complex is to close, threatening over 1,000 jobs.

The workers' existing dispute, over the victimisation of shop steward Stevie Deans and attacks on terms and conditions, must now escalate to consider sit-down strikes (occupations) and the demand for public ownership. So far, the SNP government has ruled out nationalisation, saying it wants to find a new buyer for the plant.

Workers at the Ineos petrochemical plant at the Grangemouth refinery in Scotland will need to consider tactics like occupations and demands for public ownership if they are to keep the plant from closing.

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Grangemouth workers set for strikes

Unite members at the Ineos oil refinery and petrochemical plant in Grangemouth will be staging a 48-hour strike on 20-21 October in defence of site convenor Stevie Deans.

A work-to-rule and a ban on overtime have already been underway since the beginning of October, following an 81% vote for strike action and a 91% vote for action short of strike action in a ballot with an 86% turnout.

The strike action is the latest stage in the workforce’s defence of Stevie, who has faced a sustained campaign of harassment by senior Ineos management since the summer of this year.

Unite members at the Ineos oil refinery and petrochemical plant in Grangemouth will be staging a 48-hour strike on 20-21 October in defence of site convenor Stevie Deans.

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Industrial news in brief

Junior doctors in the Republic of Ireland Ireland held a one day strike on 8 October over long working hours.

Three thousand doctors took part and fifty-one hospitals were affected.

Junior doctors are routinely required to work individual shifts of over 24 hours at a time and up to 100 hours a week. The Irish Government has admitted that the hours worked are in breach of the European Working Time Directive.

The doctors' strike follows weeks of failed negotiations with the Irish health service.

Irish doctors strike; Cheshire bus drivers fight pay freeze; firefighters' pensions Scottish ballot result.

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Oil refinery workers' strike vote

Unite members in the Ineos oil refinery in Grangemouth are voting on whether to take industrial action in defence of senior shop steward Stevie Deans.

Unite members in the Ineos oil refinery in Grangemouth are voting on whether to take industrial action in defence of senior shop steward Stevie Deans. Unite is calling for a ‘yes’ vote.

Stevie is chairperson of Falkirk Labour Party. He was suspended in June after national party officials raised allegations that Unite in Falkirk had signed up people to be party members without their knowledge and had forged their signatures on direct debit instructions.

On Ed Miliband’s instructions, the dossier containing the allegations was handed over to the police.

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Stop violence against sex workers!

On Friday 19 July, 36 cities around the world hosted protests against the violent abuse and murder of sex workers.

These protests were sparked by the transphobic and whorephobic murders of sex workers in Sweden, Turkey, France, Italy and other countries.

We were demanding “Justice for Jasmine and justice for Dora”, in reference to two recently murdered sex workers.

On Friday 19 July, 36 cities around the world hosted protests against the violent abuse and murder of sex workers.

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Écosse: Votez Non, défendez des politiques de la classe ouvrière

Le gouvernement du Scottish National Party à Holyrood (siège du parlement écossais) a finalement annoncé la date du référendum sur l'indépendance de l'Écosse pour le 18 septembre 2014.

Le gouvernement du Scottish National Party à Holyrood (siège du parlement écossais) a finalement annoncé la date du référendum sur l'indépendance de l'Écosse pour le 18 septembre 2014.

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Three days of action against Trident

Trident nuclear submarines, each carrying about 120 nuclear warheads capable of mass destruction, have been held on the deep loch of Coulport, near the military town of Helensborough, Scotland for over 30 years.

A peace camp of many caravans and buses, was built 31 years ago near the base. Life can be tough there, some want to leave and there are discussions about keeping the peace camp open. It will close unless enough people willing to live there come forward.

Although Britain has signed a nuclear non-proliferation treaty the Tories want to renew Trident and spend around £100 billion on building and maintaining a new nuclear weapons system.

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Socialist becomes President of Scottish National Union of Students

At this year’s National Union of Students Scotland conference, socialist and National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts national committee member Gordon Maloney was elected NUS Scotland President. He spoke to Solidarity.


Although it didn’t always feel like it I did expect to win.

The size of Scotland means that candidates can — and have to — make the effort to visit and speak to the majority of delegates in the run-up, and that allows the campaign to go quite deep into the politics of the candidates.

Some very bold left-wing policy was also passed.

At this year’s National Union of Students Scotland conference, socialist and National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts national committee member Gordon Maloney was elected NUS Scotland President.

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Scotland: vote No, argue for working-class politics

The Scottish National Party government in Holyrood finally announced the date for the referendum on independence for Scotland: 18 September 2014.

Everyone over the age of 16 and resident in Scotland will be entitled to vote in the referendum, in which the question on the ballot paper will be: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

Scotland is not an oppressed nation, a colony or semi-colony of British imperialism which requires independence to free itself from that denial of democratic rights. For centuries Scotland has been an integral part not just of the British state but also of British imperialism.

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