Major Debate on EU: Saturday 2nd April, 12-3pm

Hub Community Centre, 405 Kilbowie Road, Clydebank G81 2TX

Clydebank logo simple red 500 no subline




Dear Editor

A major debate is planned for West Dunbartonshire organised by the trades unions in the area. The question under discussion will be whether to leave or stay in the European Union.

Unlike discussions in the mass media which focus on UKIP and ruptions in the Tory party, this debate will concern itself with what is in the best interest of the working class - In or Out?

Questions that need answered are:

- Does a "Social Europe" counter EU austerity economics?

- Is the EU a force for peace?

- Would leaving result in large scale job losses?

- Can the left change the EU from the inside?

- Is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) integral to the wider politics of the EU?

Speakers are:

For Leaving - Dr Nigel Griffiths, former Deputy Leader of the House of Commons and Scottish Organiser of Labour Leave. Alex Smith former Labour MEP.

For staying - Gil Patterson SNP MSP for Clydebank and Milngavie. Gail Casey Labour candidate for Scottish Parliamentary Elections for Clydebank and Milngavie.

The debate will take place on Saturday 2nd April, 12-3pm in the Hub Community Centre, 405 Kilbowie Road, Clydebank G81 2TX. Free teas/coffees available.

The meeting is supported by the local branches of UNISON, UNITE, GMB, EIS, CLYDEBANK TUC, AND THE PEOPLE'S ASSEMBLY.


Tom Morrison
Clydebank TUC

THE Commonwealth Games ended on Sunday after two weeks of (mainly) glorious sunshine. Glasgow and Scotland were looking their best.

But like the rest of Britain, Scotland has its share of low pay, poverty, poor housing and struggling services.

Scotland also has its share of gross inequality. In Glasgow’s Springburn constituency, the combined life expectancy is 69. In affluent Bearsden just a couple of miles to the north it is 79. Austerity and inequality take their toll.

This is why on the last full day of the Commonwealth Games, members of the Scottish People’s Assembly were out on the streets of Glasgow with leaflets highlighting tax injustice.

Tax expert Richard Murphy and Tax Research UK estimate that the annual cost of tax avoidance and tax evasion is £95 billion.

Tax expert Richard Murphy and Tax Research UK estimate that the annual cost of tax avoidance and tax evasion is £95 billion. That’s almost exactly equal to £96bn of cuts in expenditure that, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies, the Chancellor has yet to inflict in the name of austerity.

The Scottish People’s Assembly was launched at a mass meeting in Glasgow in January this year.

The launch was addressed by STUC general secretary Grahame Smith, MSPs from Labour and the SNP, Ricky Tomlinson of the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign, speakers from Unite, Unison, PCS and RMT, community campaigners and Andrew Murray representing the British People’s Assembly.

The key task was identified as uniting trade unions and communities in fighting back against austerity policies, exposing their true motivation and putting forward alternatives that advance the interests of working people.

Since then trades union councils across Scotland have set up local People’s Assemblies in Dundee, Fife, Kilmarnock and Loudon, West Dunbartonshire, Glasgow and Irvine and North Ayrshire.

Local campaigns have taken up issues such as the bedroom tax, the sanctioning of benefit claimants — whihc is particularly bad in West Dunbartonshire — and, as a major danger for the future, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Treaty that threatens what remains of the welfare state with corporate takeover.

In Scotland, the People’s Assembly movement has been able to build on the previous work of the People’s Charter for Scotland — which had the backing of most major unions and the STUC and which launched its own petition to the Scottish Parliament in 2011-12.

This mobilised some of the early opposition to the bedroom tax, calling for evictions to be made illegal, and also included demands for private-sector rent control and the public ownership of rail and energy.

Are the issues in Scotland different from those in England?

In terms the scale of austerity, the answer is No. But in terms of the way the cuts have been administered and the underlying problems of poverty, the answer is Yes.

The SNP government has sought to protect the NHS and education from the kind of piecemeal privatisation that has been enforced in England.

At the same time it has imposed heavy general cuts on local government and frozen council tax.

Some 39,000 jobs have gone in local government in four years, with services for the elderly and those with disabilities particularly badly hit.

Scotland also has severe underlying problems of ill-health, poor housing and fuel poverty — problems that make effective public services all the more essential.

Some 72 per cent of local authorities in Scotland are in the bottom fifth of all areas across Britain in terms of life expectancy compared with just 15 per cent in England.

Fuel poverty is particularly bad. In 2012, 27 per cent of Scottish homes were in fuel poverty as against 10 per cent in England. Some 15 per cent of homes also suffer from dampness or condensation.

But in terms of poverty in general, Scotland is roughly average. North East Glasgow sits alongside Manchester Central, Birmingham Ladywood and Bethnal Green at the bottom of the league.

And unless there is resistance, everyone knows that the situation will get worse.

And unless there is resistance, everyone knows that the situation will get worse. Real wages will continue to fall while the government intends to cut the total benefit bill by a further third over the next four years.

It is this knowledge that is motivating local People’s Assemblies to get out on Scotland’s streets this summer.

By the time of the movement’s first AGM in Glasgow on Saturday October 4 it is hoped that many more trades union councils will have formed campaigns.

Locally, in most working-class communities in Scotland, organisation is weaker than it was a generation ago. Disadvantaged groups tended to be isolated. So are those who are most marginalised by low pay, casual work, zero-hours contracts and unemployment.

Nor are trade unions in an easy position — facing disabling anti-trade union laws and increasingly aggressive managements. But they still have resources and organisation. As has been demonstrated in Ayrshire, Fife, Clydebank and elsewhere, in combination with local activists, they have the ability to rebuild the confidence working-class communities, expose the real roots of austerity and to argue for the alternative policies contained in the founding statement of the People’s Charter.

This type of practical working-class unity will be essential whatever way the vote goes on September 18. That’s why the Scottish People’s Assembly steering committee want to make this a summer of mobilisation that starts to reunite people on class terms.


Phil McGarry is convener of the Scottish People’s Assembly.








With the BNP polling so badly in recent elections they have resorted back to their thuggish, racist behaviour on the streets through organisations such as the so called ‘Scottish Defence League’.
This meeting will look at why, and how we can challenge the fact that fascists can win support from a section of ordinary working class families during times of economic crisis as they did in the 1930’s, as they seek to scapegoat sections of
people because of the colour of their skin, their religion or lack of it, benefit ‘scroungers’, ‘reds’ etc-diverting people away from the real cause of their hardship-the capitalist system and a Government of the rich which is making ordinary people pay for the failure of a corrupt system.



View the embedded image gallery online at:


PCS serwotkaofficialPCS union leader Mark Serwotka rallied Britain against the great pensions robbery today, hitting out at a "defeatist" mentality among some senior figures within the labour movement.

Writing exclusively in the Morning Star at the end of a tough year for public servants, Mr Serwotka heaped praise on millions of rank and file trade unionists who braved government threats of further anti-union legislation to stage two major strikes this year.

"The pensions dispute, following on from the huge March 26 demonstration and with fantastic days of action on June 30 and November 30 (N30), has become the first mass challenge to the coalition," he said.

Insisting his union would stand firm on the issue, Mr Serwotka suggested that this "pivotal moment" could still be squandered by a hesitation among some leading trade unionists to fight back industrially.

"Danny Alexander crowed in Parliament at the end of December that the 'heads of agreement' deliver the government's key objectives in full, and do so with no new money since our November offer," he said.

"There is a deep-seated fatalism within parts of the leadership of the movement that says you can never win. That industrial action, even on the scale of N30, will never beat the government back. As one union has put it, 'damage limitation' was the best that was ever possible.

"People ask how can a coalition government of millionaires be still winning in the opinion polls despite its cuts and deeply hostile attitude to public services?

"In my view it is because of the failure of leaders in the Labour party and the trade unions to make a credible stand.

"Unions now have to make a decision of enormous significance: accept the government's proposals on pension age, contributions and the value of pensions, or demand real negotiations on the real issues."

The unprecedented comments by Mr Serwotka come after the government tried to exclude PCS from pensions discussions after the union's executive rejected its proposals.

PCS confirmed today the union was considering legal challenge over the decision.

Unison and GMB have both signed "heads of agreement" which define the structure of negotiation, with a view to thrashing out details in the new year.

But Unite has not lifted its suspension of the local government agreement until the union's national committee considers it in early 2012.

Asked whether the comments would be seen as divisive within the trade union movement, a PCS spokesman said: "We need an honest assessment of where we have got to and where we are going next."

Communist Party of Britain general secretary Rob Griffiths added: "Unions need to meet urgently to draw up a strategy based on common objectives and which recognises the value of a bold and imaginative approach to various forms of popular and industrial action."

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


len mccluskey unite insetBritain's students have certainly put the trade union movement on the spot. Their mass protests against the tuition fees increase have refreshed the political parts a hundred debates, conferences and resolutions could not reach.

We know the vast rise in tuition fees is only the down payment on the Con-Dem package of cuts, charges and job losses to make us pay for the bankers' crisis. The magnificent students' movement urgently needs to find a wider echo if the government is to be stopped.

The response of trade unions will now be critical.

Read more from the Guardian: We must join students in a broad strike movement to combat attempts to strangle the welfare state

Monday 15 November 2010

Lecturers and students did themselves proud last Wednesday with an excellent demonstration against the Con-Dem fee hike.

It was a resounding success and a credit to both organisations.

However the day has been largely remembered for the occupation of the Tory HQ at Millbank Tower.

Twitter, TV and the general mass media were alive all day with comment and opinion on the day's events.

All the focus has now drifted to "why weren't the police ready?" "How do we clamp down on dissent?" and naming and shaming the "organisers" for the Millbank occupation.

In the myriad of spin from the right-wing media outlets in this country, the facts of the day's events and the reasons why people felt compelled to protest were almost lost.



Wednesday 24 November 2010

Youth anger, disillusionment and outrage at the coalition's announcements on cuts and fees have not come as a surprise.

A whole generation of young people are having their futures torn up in front of their eyes as policies they explicitly voted against are put into effect with the support of a party many of them voted for.

Is it a surprise that college and sixth-form students among many resorted to direct action and violence as an act of desperation against the government?

Over 50,000 students, teachers and lecturers travelled to London two weeks ago to protest against the increase in tuition fees and cuts to higher education spending, representing the majority who voted against the scale of the cuts we're now seeing across government. And thousands more demonstrated in the capital and around the country today.