Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Dog That Didn't Bark

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I've had a low opinion of the Scottish TUC for quite some time, primarily because the organised voice of the Scottish labour movement has had virtually nothing to say about the fight that has been raging over equal pay in Scottish local government over the past 12 years. 

Now this has involved tens of thousands of low paid, predominantly female workers, many times more than the numbers employed in the great Ineos dispute at Grangemouth, at the Dalzell steel plant in Motherwell and even Scotland's shipbuilding or oil industries.

Yet in the past 12 years there hasn't been a single public demonstration in support of the fight for equal pay in Scotland's 32 councils, some of the largest employers in the country - many of them controlled by the Labour Party, of course. 

So I was interested to read this article in The Herald recently in which the general secretary of the STUC is described as 'not credible' by an employment tribunal which agreed that a long serving STUC employee had been victimised and unfairly dismissed.

Quite unbelievable if you ask me, but so is the fact that the STUC has been as quiet as a church mouse for years while thousands of low paid women workers have been fighting tooth and nail to enforce their rights to equal pay.

And while the STUC is not a affiliated to any political party, as I explain below in a previous post to the blog site, its executive council (which makes all the key decisions) is effectively controlled by a small handful of unions - including GMB, Unison and Unite - which are all dominated by Labour Party members and supporters. 

Which means that instead of reflecting the diversity of their members, most of whom support the SNP, Lib Dems or Conservatives these days, the trade unions in Scotland remain joined at the hip with Labour.

STUC 'victimised' former employee over race discrimination claim

By Jody Harrison - The Herald

EVIDENCE from the STUC general secretary has been repeatedly branded "not credible" by an employment tribunal as the trade union body was found guilty of victimising and unfairly dismissing one of its former workers after he raised an unsuccessful claim for racial discrimination.

Employment Judge Clair McManus dismissed a series of statements made by Grahame Smith during a case brought by former equality development officer Zaffir Hakim.

Mr Hakim, an employee of the STUC for 11 years who is of Pakistani descent, launched the tribunal after being made redundant last year, arguing that he had been singled out for raising his claim when he failed to be promoted in 2014.

Unrepresentative Unions (21/10/15)

I was intrigued by this article from The Sunday Herald on the recent SNP annual conference which was attended by the general secretary of the Scottish TUC, Graeme Smith, who was seeking for support in opposing "every single part" of the Trade Union Bill currently making its way through the House of Commons.

Now much of this bill is a diversion from sensible industrial relations because Scotland unlike, say, the London Underground network, is not plagued by strikes or the unreasonable demands of out of control workers holding the rest of the public to ransom.

In fact, I think it's fair to say we've seen too few strikes north of the border in recent years and it's very noticeable that the unions deliberately chose not to even threaten the use of the strike weapon as a way of holding Scotland's Labour-run councils to account in the fight for equal pay, for example. 

To add insult to injury we've hardly heard a word from the STUC on the issue of equal pay, even though tens of thousands of low paid women workers have been so badly let down in a major industrial dispute which has lasted for more than 10 years.

So I take Graeme's words with a great big pinch of salt because the real issue that concerns the unions is not higher thresholds for taking strike action, but the threat posed to Labour Party coffers because the new Trade Union Bill will require union members to make a conscious decision to 'opt-in' to paying a political levy to Labour in future.

Which is a very good thing, if you ask me, because while the STUC is not affiliated to Labour, the STUC's general council (its controlling executive) is stuffed full of card carrying Labour supporters even though the majority of ordinary union members in Scotland these days vote for other political parties - especially the SNP. 

Scotland's needs trade unions, independent trade unions, accountable unions - led by men and women who are genuinely representative of the grassroots membership.

But that's not what's on offer from the STUC or the big affiliated trade unions like the GMB, Unison and Unite who continue their love affair with the Labour Party even though most of their members have already voted with their feet.

'Exclude Scotland from Tories' 'vindictive' anti-union laws'

Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary speaks to the trades union motion on the last day of the SNP 81st Annual National Conference at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) in Aberdeen. Picture © ALLAN MILLIGAN

By Tom Gordon - The Sunday Herald