SSP demand public ownership of Caledonian MacBrayne

Today’s meeting of the Scottish Socialist Party national executive committee unanimously agreed the following statement on the issue of CalMac ferries.

“This meeting of the SSP national executive committee – on behalf of the entire SSP membership – demands that the new Scottish Government reject Serco’s bid to take over CalMac ferries, and instead keep the service under public ownership and control through CalMac.

CalMac and Carry OnWe demand they do so on the basis of no loss of jobs, pensions, terms or working conditions for the workforce, and no reduction in services to the communities dependent on the ferries. We further demand that if necessary, the Scottish Government defy any interference on the part of EU bureaucrats or others, in order to carry out the overwhelming desire of the Scottish people to keep CalMac ferries public.

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“SIGN OR BE SACKED” say the capitalist gannets!

richieby Richie Venton

‘Sign or be sacked’ is the dictatorial motto of many employers right now, as they issue workers an ultimatum to accept slashed wages and conditions or be sacked. That’s the approach of B&Q bosses recently as they hacked thousands of pounds off many workers wages to compensate for the miserly 50p premium on the minimum wage for the over-25s.

Now Newsquest, owners of a string of 29 Scottish newspapers – including the Greenock Telegraph, Dunfermline Press, Alloa Advertiser, Dumbarton Reporter, Carrick Herald – have applied the same dictatorial methods. They’ve demanded staff sign up to new contracts that include loss of a day’s annual holiday; longer contractual hours of work from 35 to 37.5 hours a week, with no increase in pay; reduced pension contributions, and sick pay slashed by up to half.

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SSP Response to Osborne’s 8th Budget

Tax cuts for the rich, benefit cuts for the poor. George Osborne’s 8th Budget as Chancellor was just like the other seven. Only the dates and details differ.

colin_foxIn response to what could have been Scotland’s shortest and final UK Budget, SSP national spokesperson Colin Fox said: “With UK National Debt at record levels George Osborne cut UK corporation tax, already one of the lowest in Europe, to just 17%. You would have thought there had been no public outcry recently over his failure to get Google, Starbucks, Amazon and other multinational companies to pay any tax at all.

Even under the ghastly Thatcher Government corporation tax was three times higher (52%). These Tories continue to shower neo-liberal finance capitalists with rich rewards. Osborne has also cut business rates and raised the level at which people pay the 45p top rate of income tax – the single biggest and broadest handout to the top 10% since Nigel Lawson in 1988.

His way to pay down the UK’s record breaking debt of £1.6trillion involves reducing taxes for the wealthy and reducing the income of the poor. He announced £3.5bn of public spending cuts including a £1.3bn cut in benefits to the disabled.

Dark clouds are gathering for Osborne however. The faltering world economy and anaemic growth rates throughout Europe imperil his financial prospects. Britain’s economic growth is weak as water and weakening. It may be higher than most other EU nations but it is based in finance capitalism, not the wider productive economy.

For millions of working class people toiling to make ends meet in minimum wage jobs, zero hour contracts and carrying their own record levels of personal debt Osborne’s 2016 budget is merely the latest slap in the face. The best of them will face up to the need to resist this political assault, get active and join the struggle against this neo-liberal nightmare.”

Renfrewshire SSP’s Sandra Webster adds:

sandra_webster“Today was a budget for big-business and unreconstituted Thatcherism. There was little detail where the £3.5bn of public spending cuts will be found apart from a pledge to carry on with cuts to disability spending. In the cold statistics, there was no mention of the impact of the reassessment of PIP (Personal Independence Payment) which will mean many disabled people and their carers will find their incomes slashed.

A sugar tax on fizzy drink was announced (although fruit juice will be exempt). In a manner like a teacher addressing an unruly class. he said he expected the costs would be passed onto the buyers. There was no mention of hidden sugars present in fruit juice or that which is used to flavour cheaper, low quality highly processed food which is all many can afford to eat.

I have never been so glad to live in Scotland where education is devolved as English schools are set to transform as academies. Which groups will make a financial killing from children’s education?

The question I still ponder is ‘Why are we still paying for the actions of the bankers?’

This was a budget for the pals and cronies of the Tory party not one for working class people who will pay for tax breaks for business. Cuts will continue at national and local levels. After all we are only economic units, not human beings.”

Lead photo: CC BY-SA 2.0 (Flickr)

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SSP backs a socialist Europe, and a Remain vote in the EU referendum

At the February National Council, SSP members backed a Remain vote in the upcoming referendum on the United Kingdom membership of the European Union.

Two motions were considered in the European question debate, with supporting evidence from Hugh Cullen of Stirling branch (backing a Remain vote), and Gerry McCartney of Renfrewshire branch (backing a Leave vote).

There were also successful motions on improving the party’s communications ways and means, genital mutilation and co-ordinated campaign support for municipal anti-cuts struggles.

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Solidarity with those on strike defending public services!

The Scottish Socialist Party and RISE: Scotland’s Left Alliance sends its best wishes to junior Doctors in England and teachers in West Dunbartonshire on strike today in opposition to cuts and a reduction in the vital services they deliver to the public.

We realise they would prefer to be at their work delivering the quality care and professional support they usually do at this time but have been pushed into strike action as a last resort.

Some 37,000 junior doctors, members of the British Medical Association, have stopped work for 24 hours in protest at Tory Government plans to impose punitive new working conditions upon them which leave them feeling overworked and undervalued.

We wish them every success in their dispute.

[Junior doctors in Scotland are not affected as they are employed by NHS Scotland funded from Holyrood.]

striking_teachers_west_dunbartonshireTeachers at 5 secondary schools in West Dunbartonshire are to be similarly supported in their efforts to halt a deterioration in educational provision there. The Labour Council’s plan to cut the number of deputy heads, principals and pastoral care posts, driven by financial cuts, is a poor one. This local authority is one of Scotland’s poorest and children here clearly deserve improved educational opportunities not an inferior one.

The Scottish Socialist Party and RISE are proud to stand alongside public sector professionals defending vital services.

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ANOTHER ‘NOTHING TO SEE HERE’ SPENDING REVIEW’

SNP Finance Secretary John Swinney today unveiled the Scottish Governments spending plans for the coming year.

It was a budget statement Scottish Socialist Party national co-spokesperson Colin Fox described as “more insipid managerialism, lacking ambition and any serious intention of addressing Scotland’s systemic inequalities, chronic affordable housing shortage and lack of decent jobs”.

colin_foxThe former Lothian MSP added: “Whilst it goes without saying the powers available to Holyrood are insufficient to fully address the needs of working people the fact remains John Swinney has again shown he has no intention of using even the existing powers to these ends’.

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SSP WELCOMES COMMISSION CONCLUSION THAT COUNCIL TAX IS NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE

THE Scottish Socialist Party today welcomed the conclusion reached by the Commission on Local Tax Reform that the council tax is unfair and ‘’must end”.

The Commission report, to which the SSP contributed, outlined three alternatives, one based on income, the others on land and property. The cross-party body believed any new system should continue to be one of “general tax” rather than a “system of charges for specific services”.

The Scottish Socialist Party has advocated an income based alternative for nearly 20 years now and favours a graduated income tax which rises as a person’s income rises.

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Colin Fox: closing speech to the RISE Conference

Comrades, RISE is the most important left unity project Scotland has seen in a generation.

Last weekend we reached another milestone in RISE’s development when we conducted simultaneous interventions into the Climate Change march in Edinburgh & the STUC Anti-Racism celebrations in Glasgow. Whilst the weather was foul the fact RISE was actively involved in both mass movements augurs well for the future and will not have been lost on our ‘dreich’ political opponents. This is the shape of things to come for Scotland’s Left Alliance.

The progress we have made should be a source of encouragement to us all. The programme we have agreed today represents the biggest challenge there is to neo-liberalism, warmongers, climate change deniers and unscrupulous employers everywhere.

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