The sharp disparity between jobs and joblessness was highlighted this week in Springburn. A government announcement on Wednesday said Remploy’s Springburn factory will close with the loss of 46 jobs of which 43 are held by people with disabilities.
On Friday, Scotland’s First Minister visited the nearby manufacturing base of Royal Strathclyde Blindcraft’s (RSBi) to pay tribute to its 240 award winning staff – of whom more than half have a disability.
The two establishments are within a five minute drive of each other.
On his visit, First Minister Alex Salmond said: ‘Jobs are this government’s top priority, and a major part of that is investing in workforce training and development.
Employers, workers, union and communities working in partnership with government to promote workplace learning, benefits all of us – which is why it’s so important to recognise achievements like those of the STUC award winners at Royal Strathclyde Blindcraft Industries here in Darnick Street, Springburn.’
He went on: ‘Scottish Union Learning is supported financially by the Scottish Government and I’m proud of what our efforts are helping to achieve. But of course, the real credit lies with the staff here who work so hard to develop not only their own personal potential but the effectiveness of their teams. Each and every one of them has my very best wishes.’
RSBi is operated by City Building, Glasgow City Council’s arm’s-length construction firm.
City Building managing director John Foley said: ‘The First Minister’s visit today is recognition of the great job our staff are doing every day at RSBi, producing quality products for the public, private and third sectors. RSBi is a commercially successful organisation because we continue to adapt our product range to suit the evolving needs of our customers. That’s why we can employ 240 people. RSBi is not run as a charity but as a thriving social enterprise.’
Community Union – the largest trade union within RSBi – provides funding for a range of training courses via the Scottish Union Learning Fund, which is administered by the STUC.
Many RSBi staff have benefitted from training through the Fund, which has brought a direct economic benefit to individual employees and to the company as a whole.
Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary, said: ‘The STUC Union Rep Awards highlight the invaluable contribution that trade union members make in the workplace.’
The First Minister’s visit was organised after Robert Mooney, a development officer at RSBi, was awarded the STUC One Workplace Equality Award by the First Minister in November 2011.
A registered blind person, Robert invited the First Minister to visit his workplace and witness the state-of-the-art manufacturing taking place at Springburn.
RSBi has had a presence in Glasgow for more than 200 years. The business has continued to evolve to meet the changing needs of the marketplace and currently specialises in manufacturing a wide range of products from office, domestic and educational furniture to timber kits for houses and schools and beds among many other items.
In Remploy’s factory in Edgefauld Road, the impact of the closure announcement was just sinking in. Established since 1976, it is one of the 36 out of 54 Remploy factories expected to be closed this year as not commercially viable. This is because of the Westminster Government’s decision to reduce current funding as part of a package of reforms ‘to maximise the number of disabled people supported into work.’ Of the 46 workers at Remploy in Springburn, 43 have disabilities. They manufacture steel wheelchairs. Government funding for the entire Remploy network is expected to be reduced during 2012/13 with the aim of completing changes by autumn 2013. Soon, Remploy will start discussions with trade unions and management forums to begin the formal consultation on the proposals.
After the announcement William Bain, Labour MP for Glasgow North East said: ‘This is devastating news. In my constituency there are almost 20 people chasing every vacancy. It is incredibly tough out there. There is a big enough shortage of jobs without placing strain and pressure on some of the most vulnerable members of the workforce. The way this has been sneaked out is unacceptable.’
In Glasgow last year, Employment Services found 534 jobs for disabled and disadvantaged people.
Two contemporary films, shot by the only crew to be allowed into the Upper Clyde Shipyards during the Work-in are to be screened in Glasgow next month. And one of the original filmmakers, Ann Guedes, is flying in from Lisbon to take part in a series of panel discussions around the showings. This is the next event marking the 40th Anniversary of the famous Work-in.
The radical film collective, Cinema Action, formed by Ann, her deceased husband Eduardo Guedes and Gustav Lamche, followed the action around the Work-in as the Stewards took over the yards and prevented their run-down and butchery planned by the then Tory Government. The result was two unique films from the struggle. UCS 1 – a short (23 min) film depicting the workers strategy, how they gained community support for their campaign and took the fight right to the door of the Heath government; and Class Struggle: Film from the Clyde, a longer (83 min) documentary study of the Work-in, concentrating on the workers and shop stewards and their activity, running the yards and highlighting their fight to ‘keep what is keepable’.
The films will be shown, along with a short history UCS 40th Anniversary , produced by Kevin Buchanan of the STUC written by historian John Foster, and narrated by prominent actor and director, David Hayman, over three nights 21-23 March 2012 in Glasgow’s Mitchell Theatre. Tickets are available via the Glasgow Concert Halls website – www.glasgowconcerthalls.com
David Hayman will also be taking part in one of the panel discussions (on Friday 23 March) along with Ann Guedes. He said
“These films remind me what an extraordinary time it was. Suddenly a new way was possible in our world due to the courage of a group of hard-working men and women who seized the day with boldness and imagination. People power in action.”
Jimmy Cloughley, was one of the UCS Joint Shop Stewards committee, and had special responsibility for Communications both inside and outside the yard. He said that allowing the film crew in, paid off.
“We wanted to ensure that the viewpoint of the workforce was recorded, and Cinema Action did that job admirably. It was an historic struggle and an historic victory, and these films give a real flavour of the times. They are truly unique.”
Stephen Farmer was an apprentice during the Work-in. He was given the job of taking the crew around and got to know them very well. He says: “Ultimately I was laid off once my apprenticeship finished, but Cinema Action kept me on to continue working with them! Too often with working class history things aren’t well recorded, and I’m proud that I did my bit, both in taking part, and in helping to ensure this one was recorded.”
The Work-in lasted 16 months from July 1971-October 1972 and finished when all four of the yards threatened with closure won a future. The 40th Anniversary celebrations have involved two sell-out concerts, an exhibition, a lecture by Professor John Foster and receptions given both by Glasgow City Council and in the Scottish Parliament. The events have been funded by UNITE, the union, who are one of the main inheritors of the unions involved in the Work-in.
Hundreds of people packed into Falkirk Football Club’s Westfield Stadium on Friday November 4 to celebrate the life of Campbell Christie. The former General Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress died, aged 74, on October 28 and was buried at a private service in Kirkcudbrightshire.
His family felt the stadium, where he’d spent many happy hours following his team and chairing the Club, was the appropriate place to hold the public tribute but warned everyone to wrap up well and be prepared to be exposed to the elements.
As it was, the day was dry and sunny and the body heat of the several hundred people who attended and the warmth of feeling for the late Campbell and for his family, helped keep everyone happy.
Current STUC General Secretary, Grahame Smith said that Campbell had taken over at the STUC in 1986 during ‘most challenging times’ for Scottish industry and workers. ’But he liked a challenge!’
Grahame paid tribute to his predecessor’s skills in negotiation and people management. ‘He was a master of the gentle art of persuasion,’ he said. One of Scotland’s most outstanding trade union and civic leaders, Campbell Christie led the Scottish TUC through the 1980s and 1990s. ‘He was never afraid of taking the difficult decision, even if he knew it might upset the others in the Labour movement. He always saw the bigger picture,’ said Grahame.
A message from First Minister Alex Salmond was read and said Campbell had been ‘unstinting in his public service right up to the end.’ The family expressed their thanks to Mr Salmond for his support during Campbell’s illness.
Among his many civic responsibilities, Campbell served on Boards as diverse as Forth Valley NHS Lothian, Scottish Enterprise, British Waterways, Age Concern Falkirk, Central Scotland Race Equality Council and the Scottish Premier League. In Scotland, he was appointed to the Scottish Futures Forum through the Scottish Parliament and in Europe he was Vice President of the European Union Economic and Social Committee’s section for Cohesion and Economic affairs – among many other appointments. He was honoured by five universities and made CBE in the Queen’s 1997 Birthday Honours list.
Tributes were paid by his son Doug Christie, brother Leslie and granddaughter Lindsey. And singers Dick Gaughan and MSP Cathy Peattie, also raised their voices, tunefully, to honour the man.
The stadium where the Celebration was held was opened when Campbell was Chairman of the Board of Falkirk Football Club, said present chairman, Martin Ritchie. ‘This is part of his legacy to the people of Falkirk and to the club he served so well.’
In closing, his friend Professor Andrew Scott positioned Campbell’s unique contribution in the history of Scotland. ‘He was an exceptional man who did exceptional things. All of Scotland will miss him,’ he said.
A Celebration of the Life of the late Campbell Christie will be held on Friday 4 November 2011 at 4pm in Falkirk Football Stadium, Westfield, Falkirk, FK2 9DX. The family of the former General Secretary of the STUC invite anyone who cares to come, to attend, and advise that since this event will be held in the main stand people should be prepared and warmly clad as they will be quite exposed to the weather!
The family will be holding a private family burial prior to this, and have asked for family flowers only. However, donations may be sent to Strathcarron Hospice (Tel: 01324 826222) e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org – Strathcarron Hospice, Randolph Hill, Denny, Stirlingshire FK6 5HJ.
Campbell Christie who was General Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress for 12 years till 1998, has died, aged 74, at Strathcarron Hospice in Stirlingshire.
Not only was he a champion of the trades union movement, he was a socialist who saw a wider picture and campaigned long and hard for a Scottish Parliament through the Scottish Constitutional Convention.
Said First Minister, Alex Salmond: ‘Scotland has lost a giant of the trade union movement and of public life.’
Current STUC General Secretary, Grahame Smith, said: Campbell was a tremendous ambassador for the trade union movement and for Scotland. He was one of Scotland’s most outstanding trade union and civic leaders and led people through the 1980s and 90s – some of the most challenging times for Scottish industry and Scottish workers – with tremendous skill and passion, gaining respect for himself and the STUC across the industrial and political spectrum.
‘He was never afraid of taking the difficult decision, even if he knew it might upset others in the Labour movement. He always saw the bigger picture.
‘Under Campbell’s stewardship the STUC rose above the exclusion of unions from the ‘corridors of power’ and forged relationships across Scottish society which galvanised opposition to the brutal policies of Thatcher and Major Governments. Those relationships remain in place today.’
Three times chairman of Falkirk Football Club, he was still a Director on his death on Friday 28 October. ‘He steered the Club through some of the greatest turmoil and greatest successes,’ says the Club’s website. A minute’s silence will be observed at the game on Saturday 29 October against Raith Rovers.
Today, a handful of students managed to get into the Collins building on Strathclyde University Campus and occupy the ‘posh’ board room used by Senate meetings and the like.
‘This is a peaceful occupation,’ said spokesman Ramy Albanna. ‘We are doing this to claim freedom of access, to highlight the hike in fees for students coming here from England and to express our concern at the closure of Community Education, Sociology, Geography and even Music course.’
We will be marching with the STUC and many other people on Saturday 1 October in the People First march from Glasgow Green to a rally in Kelvingrove Park. Because of that, we told the University we’d be out by Saturday.’
Security personnel at the University shut down the Collins Building in a bid to prevent numbers swelling. Two police officers arrived around 2pm after a number of protesters attempted to gain access to the building via a side entrance.
The neighbouring McCance Building in which Strathclyde senior management is housed, including the Principal’s office, was closed to students following the occupation which started around 11.30am onThursday 29 September.
The move comes two days after Strathclyde University announced plans to charge students from England, Northern Ireland and Wales £9,000 a year from the next academic year, taking the cost of a four-year degree to £27,000 after a cap was imposed.
At 4.30pm the University issued a brief statement saying: ‘A small number of protesters are holding a sit-in in one of the University’s administration buildings. The impact is localised and the University is working to minimise disruption.’
When it was pointed out that police were involved and indeed this website had pictures, the response was a promise to get more information.
University of Strathclyde Students’ Association president Charandeep Singh is understood to be in discussions with Principal Professor Jim McDonald.
The People First march and rally on Saturday will be led by the STUC but incorporates a large number of faith groups as well as campaigners in a large number of equality and anti-poverty organisations.
After speeches and music in Kelvingrove Park, groups will disperse to places of worship, student unions, public buildings and hotel in the vicinity to address specific issues.
The day will also feature fund raising for the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal on the famine in Africa.
The day will challenge poverty levels and campaign for re-distribution of wealth across Scotland and the UK. People will also be campaigning to protect the hardest hit by service and benefit cuts and to build and re-connect communities and movements across the country.
Strathclyde University’s fees are now set at £9000 a year for undergraduates from the rest of the UK outwith Scotland. Glasgow University fees are set at £6750 and capped at £26,000 for a four year degree course. The annual fee for Scottish students studying at Scottish universities – which is effectively paid for by the Scottish Government – is unchanged at £1800.
Charandeep Singh, of the University of Strathclyde Students’ Association said: ‘We oppose all student fees and anything that could lead to the commercialisation of higher education. ‘The University Court had a chance to show leadership by minimising the impact of fees at Strathclyde. Instead they have chosen to charge the highest possible fees, proving that they are motivated purely by profit.’
The Scottish/Gambia Human Rights campaign will have a speaker at the Irvine May Day rally on Saturday 7 May. In Glasgow there will be a stall in Buchanan Street on Sunday 22 May at 1pm to mark International Day of Action and a rally in George Square on Friday 22 July.
A video of a debate on the issues of human rights in the Gambia at the STUC’s annual meeting can be viewed on YouTube.
By Erik Geddes
Photograph by Stuart Maxwell
Anger over the treatment of Glasgow’s asylum community saw a crowd of 500 people burn letters outside the UK Border Agency (UKBA) on Saturday 20 November.
Earlier in November Glasgow City Council’s (GCC) contract to house 600 families – around 1300 people – was terminated by the UKBA.
This was followed by a letter from the UKBA telling asylum seekers staying in property provided by GCC that they could be moved elsewhere in Scotland with three to five days’ notice.
A stay of execution has been granted which means that no evictions will commence until early February 2011 and the amount of notice has been put up to 14 days.
However, the outrage at what is widely recognised as callous behaviour by the UKBA remains as strong as the will to reverse the policy. The contract between the UKBA and the GCC was worth £10 million annually and it remains unclear how the 1300 asylum seekers, until now provided for by the GCC, will be housed. Y People and the Angel Group are the two other, main private bodies providing homes for asylum seekers in Glasgow
The asylum seekers at the protest on Saturday 20 November were backed by cross party political support, the STUC, several voluntary organisations, many faith groups and churches and ordinary Glaswegians.
On Thursday 18 November, pupils from Lourdes Secondary School in Cardonald, handed a petition with 1000 signatures to Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond which called for asylum seekers to be allowed to stay in the city.
Mr Salmond wasn’t present at the rally but passed on his support from Holyrood.
Johann Lamont, Member of Scottish Parliament for Glasgow Pollock, highlighted the responsibility of Glasgow Westminster MPs, who are expected to meet with Immigration Minister Damien Green this week.
She said: ‘The critical role is for MPs in Glasgow. They have managed to get a temporary stop on any evictions.
‘Today’s demonstration shows the public support but we need top level political pressure too.’
She added: ‘I’m proud to be part of the success story and the only city in Scotland that did take dispersal of asylum seekers and it’s vital that we continue to embrace that.’
The UKBA explained their decision in a press release: ‘Despite UK Border Agency offering an increase on what are, already, the highest accommodation charges in the UK outside London, we were unable to reach an agreement with Glasgow City Council.’
Glasgow City Council said they regretted the breakdown of the contract. Despite many months of negotiation they were adament that the standard of accommodation offer to asylum seekers had to be the same as for any other homeless person in the city. The UKBA was not prepared to pay the price that GCC required to continue that level of accommodation and of support services. Glasgow has 40 people providing support services and it is unclear if those jobs would be included with any new accommodation provider.
Not on the platform, but at the back of the crowd, was former Scottish Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan. Mr Sheridan – currently on trial for perjury at the High Court in Glasgow – looked tired but took time out to tell LOCAL NEWS GLASGOW: ‘These are ordinary men and women who have fled torture from all the corners of the earth. It’s a basic tenet of humanity that you offer some solace and support to the most vulnerable in society.’
Robina Qureshi, Director of Positive Action in Housing, gave a rousing speech to say that the situation was inhuman and the process of mass evacuation of people had to be stopped. She dropped a match into a drum to light the fire. Hundreds of asylum seekers then, bravely, went forward to consign their letter of removal to the flames.
Frank Maguire, of Thompsons solicitors, won the prestigious Solicitor of the Year category recently at the Scottish Law Awards in Glasgow.
The award signals a rare double success – Mr Maguire led Thompsons to the Law Firm of the Year title at last year’s ceremony.
Mr Maguire is a tireless campaigner on behalf of asbestos victims and NHS patients who contracted Hepatitis C and HIV from infected NHS blood transfusions and products.
The judges at last night’s glittering ceremony also recognised his professional skills and praised his political convictions and his impact in changing the law.
Mr Maguire said: “This is a tremendous honour which reflects the professionalism of my colleagues whose support has made it possible.
“The Law is currently going through a period of change and uncertainty, which means we have to be more vigilant than ever that our rights are not eroded.
“I am working with the STUC on their Access to Justice campaign against rising court costs which threaten to price the man in the street out of our courts.
“I am also supporting MSP Bill Butler in his efforts to get the Scottish Parliament to pass the Wrongful Deaths bill which would eliminate the need for details of victims lives to be the subject of courtroom wrangling and give them a legal right to fair and just compensation.”
Beer, curry, football and comedy looks like a heaven-sent combination and there will be plenty of all of them at the home of the STUC and the Stand on Friday April 30.
Stand Up Against Racism is the latest awareness campaign from Show Racism The Red Card (SRTRC) and will provide comedians with a platform for their skills and art to reach adults with an anti-racist and anti-fascist message.
Partners in the event include Scottish Ethical Events, the Co-op and Bombay Blues. Performers Des Clarke, Phil Differ, Paul Sinha, Susan Morrison and Saj Chaudhry will be there on the night to fuel the laughter and mock the hard-of-thinking.
Tommy Breslin, SRTRC Education Coordinator, said: ‘Stand Up Against Racism is an excellent way of bringing together adults to celebrate multi-culturalism and point out just how ridiculous racism is.’
Comedy writer and sometime football pundit Phil Differ said: ‘I love comedy, I love football, I love curry, I hate racism. Doing this gig was a no brainer.’
The evening at 333 Woodlands Road starts at 7pm with beer and curry. The comedy starts at 8pm. Tickets are by donation – £10 minimum – and are available at www.fairpley.com or call Fair Pley on 0141 418 0562.