News of what's going on in radical politics in Scotland.

Support International Women’s Day, All Year!

Mar 08, 2017 Add a comment

The Jimmy Reid Foundation is pleased to mark International Women’s Day on 8th March 2017, by promoting the UN’s call to “Step It Up for Gender Equality towards a Planet 50-50 by 2030” so that the world of work works for all women.

The 2017 theme for International Women’s Day focuses on “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030”. Employment is changing, with technological advances and globalization bringing unprecedented opportunities for those who can access them, but the downside is the growing informality of labour, income inequality and humanitarian crises –  See more at: http://www.un.org/en/events/womensday/

New analysis published by the TUC  reveals that the average woman has to wait nearly a fifth of a year (66 days) before she starts to get paid, compared to the average man.  For more information on what’s wrong, and the scale of the inequity see the TUC report https://www.tuc.org.uk/equality-issues/gender-equality/equal-pay/women-work-free-fifth-year-says-tuc

 

Brexit: rights, risks and responsibilities: What’s at stake for human rights in Scotland?

Jan 23, 2017 Add a comment

Brexit: rights, risks and responsibilities: What’s at stake for human rights in Scotland?

You are invited to attend a meeting organised by the Scottish Human Rights Commission and the Jimmy Reid Foundation to raise awareness of the importance of human rights and social protections as the UK takes steps to leave the EU, and the opportunities to strengthen the protection and implementation of rights in Scotland.  Here is the briefing paper produced for the event to outline some of the issues to be discussed.JRF meeting background paper vFinal

The meeting will take place on Wednesday 22nd February 2017 in the Radisson Blu Glasgow, 301 Argyle Street, G2 8DL.  Registration is free just go to the Eventbrite page https://www.eventbrite.com/e/brexit-rights-risks-and-responsibilities-whats-at-stake-for-human-rights-in-scotland-tickets-31392554977

PROGRAMME

4.15 – 5pm    Registration, tea coffee, juice and biscuits

5pm              Opening remarks from Chair Judith Robertson, Chair of Scottish Human Rights Commission

5.10- 5.45     Keynote Speakers – rights, risks, responsibilities

  • Grahame Smith, STUC and Standing Council on Europe
  • Kavita Chetty, Scottish Human Rights Commission
  • Carole Ewart, Jimmy Reid Foundation

5.45- 6.15     Spotlight on The Issues

  • Human rights and Charter of Fundamental Rights-  Tobias Lock, University of Edinburgh
  • Employment, including health and safety – Nicole Busby, University of Strathclyde
  • Environment- Dr Antonio Cardesa-Salzmann Lecturer in EU Environmental Law, Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance
  • Equality and discrimination – Muriel Robison University of Glasgow

6.15- 6.45     Roundtable discussions followed by Q & A

6.45- 7.15     Advancing our rights, next steps panel discussion

  • Peter Kelly, Poverty Alliance
  • Mary Alexander, Unite

7.15- 7.45- Roundtable and Q & A

7.45- Closing remarks from Chair

The Jimmy Reid Foundation gratefully acknowledges the support given by the Scottish Human Rights Commission in the organisation of the meeting.

Reid Foundation Gives Evidence to UK Scottish Affairs Committee

Jan 12, 2017 Add a comment

On Wednesday 11th January 2017, the Jimmy Reid Foundation gave oral evidence and delivered a written submission to the Scottish Affairs Committee of the UK Parliament to inform its current inquiry ‘Sustainable employment in Scotland’.  The Inquiry is examining how employment in Scotland may change in the coming decades, how the UK Government will support the creation of quality, secure jobs. and is looking at how successful UK policy is in protecting people from unfair employment practices.

The Jimmy Reid Foundation highlighted the problems for workers and their families inherent to the current economic and social system, the threats from Brexit and global changes, and the dangers across Scotland and the UK from withdrawal of current employment rights. Solutions and new directions of travel were offered.

Professor Danson, who delivered the evidence, said:

‘The main argument made was that there is a need to address our long standing productivity problems and that requires a fundamental change in how skills, expertise and experiences of the workforce. Moving towards the high innovation-high wage-high productivity industrial model that has brought success to the Nordic countries and Germany requires a new strategic approach and paradigm. Sustainable employment must be based on utilising the high levels of skills in the workforce, too many of whom are currently under-employed in low wage and low skill jobs. By restructuring employment and industrial markets, the Scottish economy can go through a transition to a new equilibrium that works for all compared with the current state of waste, hopelessness and decline’.

He continued, saying:

‘The current precariousness of many jobs and careers is exacerbated for some by the growth of self-employment and enforced ‘entrepreneurship’. Without the protection of employment rights – with no maternity and paternity rights, no paid holidays, no employers’ pension contributions, and other basic elements of the normal work contract – these workers face insecure and unstable lives, with a bleak old age. With lower incomes, their taxes and NI contributions are lower than expected so that society suffers the consequences. Corporations, public and private, save on their costs, boost their short term profits but society is made poorer’.

Concluding, Professor Danson stated:

‘The Jimmy Reid Foundation is, therefore, calling for conditions to be applied to public procurement to raise standards in the labour market, to increase the number and quality of apprenticeships, to promote gender, BME and disability equality, to support SMEs in gaining access to subcontracting.

Complementing this, the Foundation has demanded that the Scottish Government’s Fair Work Framework is supported with legislation and regulation, requiring the devolution of employment law and all social security powers to the Scottish Parliament. This would allow Scotland’s economy to begin the transition to a high wage-high productivity-high innovation status with sustainable employment, and higher returns to investment. Other institutional initiatives and structural changes would be required, including a national investment bank, a refreshed development agency network, and stronger means to protect indigenous firms from hostile takeovers and monopoly practices’.   The submission is available Submission SAC 11.01.17

 

Public Service Reform – Policy Paper Launched

Jan 06, 2017 Add a comment

PUBLIC SERVICE REFORM IN SCOTLAND

A major new policy paper by Dave Watson of UNISON

The Paper covers the following areas: * The Case for Public Services * Challenges Facing Scotland’s Public Services * Public Service Workforce * Approaches to Public Service Reform * The Third sector * The Christie Commission * Scottish Approaches to Public Service Reform * Financing Public Services * Principles of Public Service Reform * New Approaches to Public Service Reform

The Paper will be launched at a seminar on Friday 20 January at 10am and you can attend but registration is essential.   Register online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/public-service-reform-in-scotland-launch-of-new-policy-paper-by-dave-watson-tickets-30926610324

The venue is Lecture Theatre 2, Appleton Tower, University of Edinburgh, 11 Crichton Street, EH8 9LE http://www.ed.ac.uk/maps/maps?building=appleton-tower

Registration tea/coffee 10.00/30 and event begins 10.30am-12.30pm.

Chairperson: Professor James Mitchell; Speaker: Dave Watson: Questions and discussion

The Foundation gratefully acknowledge the support given by the University Academy of Government in the organisation of the seminar

Synopsis

The financial and other pressures on Scotland’s public services are driving an agenda of piecemeal public service reform. Five years after the Christie Commission set out the principles of a particularly Scottish approach, it is time to take a holistic look at the next stage of reform. Dave Watson’s paper for the Reid Foundation examines the context and development of public service reform in Scotland and analyses the approaches of the current government and those who advocate other reforms. The paper makes the case for change that recognises the value of public services to the economy and society generally.

It argues for the delivery of integrated public services built around recognisable communities, whose primary focus is to challenge the underlying inequalities that blight our country and waste public resources, generation after generation. Services should be delivered at the lowest practical level, allowing staff and citizens to design services in a way that best meets the needs of their communities.

The role of central government should be to set the strategic direction based on outcomes – rather than trying to direct services from Edinburgh. However, the paper recognises that a country the size of Scotland cannot justify duplication and difference for the sake of it. It makes the case for public service frameworks that allow local services to focus on what matters to achieve positive outcomes.

This paper attempts to break out of the sterile centralism v localism debate, with a different approach. It offers a co-operative more equal Scotland, rather than one left to the vagaries of the market.

The author is the Head of Policy and Public Affairs at UNISON Scotland. He was an expert advisor to the Christie Commission and has worked with all levels of government over a lengthy career in public service.

The Policy Paper can be downloaded Public Service Reform by DaveWatson

See also Dave’s Blog on  ‘Public Works’ http://unisondave.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/a-new-approach-to-public-service-reform.html

 

The Prudential Code: flimsy fig leaf in the coming storm

Dec 30, 2016 Add a comment

Independent statistician and economist, Jim Cuthbert, warns the Prudential Code provides Scottish local government with no protection in the coming storm. 

After the Scottish Government’s tight local government funding settlement in its December 2016 budget, and ahead of the local elections in May next year, independent statistician and economist, Dr Jim Cuthbert, sheds light on a little known but now critically important rule, the statutory Prudential Code in a new policy paper for the Jimmy Reid Foundation. The paper is entitled ‘The Prudential Code: flimsy fig leaf in the coming storm’.

The Prudential Code for Capital Finance in Local Authorities was introduced in Scotland in April 2004. Since then, local authorities have discretion to determine their own levels of capital expenditure and borrowing, provided they abided by the code which is designed to ensure that authorities act prudently and sustainably.

Since its introduction, the code has operated without attracting much comment. But now that we are in an era of much greater uncertainty, with the Scottish Government in control of much more of its own budget after the fiscal settlement, with economic growth remaining weak, and with the implications of Brexit continuing to be unclear, Jim Cuthbert questions whether the code remains fit for purpose over a decade later.

He concludes that the kind of disaggregated system represented by the operation of the code is unlikely to be able to cope with the challenges it will face. There is a manifest danger that local authorities will find themselves over-committed, both in terms of traditional borrowing, and in terms of the contractual commitments they are undertaking through various forms of Public-Private Partnership, (like the Scottish Future’s Trust NPD (Non-Profit Distributing) schemes.) And, there is also the danger that, if times turn hard, authorities may be exposed to various forms of ‘off balance sheet’ debt, (arising, for example, from Arm’s Length External Organisations (ALEOs)), which are not adequately captured in the current operation of the code.

In his paper, Jim Cuthbert, therefore, makes five recommendations:

1) Local authorities need to work to longer time horizons than many of them are currently using when they are assessing the future budgetary consequences of the capital funding decisions they are making.

2) It is not enough to rely on local authorities independently assessing their future expenditure commitments because they may well be making assumptions which are mutually inconsistent.

3) What is required is a joint-system, under which local authorities’ independent financial plans are informed by, and in turn, inform, a national assessment of the prospects for the aggregate of local authority budgets.

4) It would not be appropriate for central government to attempt to carry out this national aggregate financial projection role so a suitable independent body would have to be commissioned to carry out this role. But central government will have to play its part. In particular, it will have to display much greater maturity than it does at present in being more open about potential long term financial prospects.

5) There are a number of more specific issues about the Prudential Code which need to be addressed, in particular, the code should require authorities to be much more open about issues like the financing costs actually being incurred under the guise of public private partnerships.

Commenting on his Jimmy Reid Foundation paper, Jim Cuthbert said: ‘“Dark storm clouds are now gathering and it is a matter of urgency that the Prudential Code system is adapted to cope with the uncertain environment for local authority finances. More authorities need to work to longer term planning horizons: but that alone would not be enough. In addition, there needs to be a national assessment of the prospects for the aggregate of local authority budgets, carried out by a suitable independent body. My recommendations are intended are intended to help local authorities get to grips with the challenges they face but they will need help from the Scottish Government to do so.’

The full paper is available hereJRFJCPrudentialcode  Useful coverage of the Paper appears in Public Finance in an article by Keith Aitken http://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2017/02/replace-prudential-borrowing-code-scotland-urges-expert

Stop Trident Renewal!

Nov 25, 2016 Add a comment

On Thursday 24 November 2016, the Jimmy Reid Foundation launched a major new research paper examining the economic, political and social costs of renewing the Trident nuclear missile system for Scotland.

In ‘Trident and its Successor Programme – the case for non-renewal, employment diversification and contributing to peace’, Professor Mike Danson, Karen Gilmore and Dr Geoff Whittam make three sets of arguments against Trident’s renewal. These concern i) the moral and philosophical case against renewal; ii) the economic case for non-renewal; and iii) the defence case for non-renewal.

The report also examines the impact of non-renewal in economic, social and military terms, specifically looking at the impact of job loss as a result of non-renewal and assesses the case for diversification in terms of skill redeployment and benefits.

The report will be launched in the Scottish Parliament at 1pm by Professor Danson with contributions from Green, Labour and SNP MSPs (Alison Johnstone, Elaine Smith and Bill Kidd respectively). 

Amongst the report’s major findings are:  

    • Only 600 civilian jobs are dependent on the existing Trident system at Her Majesty’s Naval Base (HMNB) Clyde (Faslane and Coulport): 520 on missiles and the equivalent of 80 on maintenance. The other 3,721 jobs at HMNB Clyde work on other submarines and surface ships and are not at risk.
    • The Trident Successor programme will not lead to any new jobs but merely maintain 11,520 across the UK at a cost of £205bn to the UK taxpayer or almost £18m per job.
    • Employment has been falling at HMNB and generally in defence in Scotland due to cuts to fund Trident and the Successor programme. Expenditure on Trident and the Successor Programme are costing defence jobs throughout Britain.
    • The very high cost per Trident job is wasteful of skill and other resources; offers little to the Scottish and UK economies in the way of economic activity and multiplier effects; and threatens to lead to ever-increasing costs of procurement. Engineering skills are needed elsewhere in the economy, and diversion of these to Trident is socially unacceptable.
    • Trident and Successor does not represent investment into manufacturing but provides benefits to banks, multinational enterprises and arms suppliers.
    • Austerity cuts have led to over 30,000 job losses in local government in Scotland with more forecast, damaging the delivery of vital public services. The transfer of a modest amount of Trident monies would easily reverse these cuts.
    • There is no military necessity for renewal of Trident say former senior members of the Armed Forces, with resources consequently being diverted from essential defence needs.
    • Continuing decline in the armed forces and defence expenditure has already resulted in many job losses on the Clyde and other defence centres.
    • Trident and the Successor programme increasingly dominate the defence budget leading to cuts in jobs and equipment elsewhere. There are major employment consequences for Clyde shipbuilding in a decreasing defence budget if Trident is not cancelled with, for example, fewer orders of new Type-26 frigates.
    • The Successor programme means importing technologies and weapons, not producing and servicing them domestically, so that multiplier effects are reduced and so fewer jobs, supplies and incomes are retained within Scotland and the UK
    • Scotland is not threatened with a loss of ‘vital jobs, skills and the high value terms’ if Successor was abandoned. Scotland has been and will continue to face skill shortages in sectors where growth and development would be enhanced by recruitment of workers on Trident-related and Successor programmes.  
    • The Scottish Government should establish a ‘Scottish Defence Diversification Agency’, as proposed by the STUC, whose main focus will be planning and resourcing the diversification of jobs away from defence projects, such as Trident, and promoting the greening of the Scottish economy.

Professor Mike Danson, the lead author, commented:

‘Our report demonstrates that far, far more is to be lost than gained by renewing Trident. Trident does not save jobs but costs jobs. Trident does not enhance our skills base but degrades it. Trident does not bring economic benefits to the local area but leaks them away from it. All in all, renewing Trident makes neither economic nor social sense. It also an affront to democracy and humanity, and makes the world no more safe than it currently is.’

Professor Gregor Gall, director of the Jimmy Reid Foundation, commented: ‘We very much welcome this robust and rigorously researched report. Without a doubt, it makes the case that renewing Trident is not in the interests of the citizens of Scotland. We look forward to politicians and political parties taking up its findings and promoting them in order to do all that can be done to stop the renewal of Trident.’

The report is now available to download Trident Report 24th Nov

JEREMY CORBYN GIVES JIMMY REID MEMORIAL LECTURE ON A PRODUCTIVE ECONOMY AND GOOD SECURE JOBS

Oct 28, 2016 Add a comment

www.sunnygovanradio.com

 

The Rt. Hon. Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party delivered this year’s Annual Memorial Lecture. The topic was “Industrial Strategy” and he set out the way forward on a productive economy and good, secure jobs. 

The full speech is available to watch at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNpElyrZpgE&feature=youtu.be  thanks to the STUC.  If you want to listen to the full lecture and questions from the audience  while you are travelling or taking exercise, you can download at http://www.mediafire.com/file/b9y8prx7kjlawa5/Corbin_speach_with_questions_%28mp3%29.mp3     Thanks to Sunny Govan Radio for making this recording.

The Foundation Convener, Bob Thomson said “The subject matter of Jeremy’s lecture was very timely and welcome for the Foundation which has produced a number of policy papers on industrial strategy and related matters. Good, secure jobs require a productive economy. Moreover, the BHS scandal and other corporate excesses and recent disputes in the rail and offshore oil industries have highlighted the need for radical reforms. Jeremy is committed to investing in research and development, better training, ending zero hour  contacts, providing safe working conditions, ensuring fair equal pay and giving workers  a say in how their organisation is run. He is not a recent convert to these ideals but has a long track record of support.”   IMG_3034 (2)

Jeremy Corbyn said ‘Jimmy Reid was one of the most outstanding trade unionists and socialist fighters that Scotland has ever produced. He led the UCS Work-in whose legacy is that we still have shipbuilding on the Clyde today. His message of the necessity of human dignity at work reverberates down the years and is a theme that I campaigned on last year – and am campaigning on again this year – in order to make sure that Labour represents the interest of workers.’  

Sunny Govan Community Radio  is a registered Scottish Charity: SC031526, broadcasting across Glasgow on 103.5FM and around the world on www.sunnygovanradio.com

Unions and Europe: what are the choices?

May 12, 2016 Add a comment

A Quick Note by Gregor Gall, professor of industrial relations, University of Bradford

It has become evident that the referendum on 23 June this year is a referendum on whether Britain’s membership of the European Union should be maintained regardless of the deal David Cameron struck with the EU member countries on 19 February 2016 (on freezing on in-work benefits for EU citizens working in Britain; stopping all payments of child benefit going to children living outside Britain; safeguarding to protect countries outside the eurozone against regulation made by those inside it; and not being covered by deeper EU integration). This is, therefore, not the referendum Cameron intended to have. He sought to narrow the referendum question posed by the terms of his agreement. As such, the questions facing unions and their members are even more profound and searching than could have been expected. Boycotting, active abstention or not taking a position (as some unions did in the Scottish independence referendum) are not then quite so credible options in this referendum as the contours of the debate are clearly only about ‘in’ or ‘out’ per se with the choice faced being one of working out which is the least worst option.

The Quick Note is available to read here   JRFEuropequicknote

Agenda for Action

Apr 25, 2016 Add a comment

Agenda for MSP Action

 The Jimmy Reid Foundation (JRF) has published its ‘Agenda for Action’ highlighting seven areas requiring the immediate attention of the newly elected Members of the Scottish Parliament.  Drawing on JRF publications, independent research and events, the recommendations cover workers’ rights, human rights, developing Scotland’s ports, the fiscal settlement, and getting better data to make informed decisions to grow our overseas trade and the economy.

Professor Gregor Gall, Director of the Foundation said today “As the newly elected Scottish Parliament gets down to business  with a minority SNP government, we are providing a list of seven urgent actions that should inform internal and cross party discussions.  We are determined that our research makes a positive impact and is not ignored despite the uncomfortable and disturbing issues that the independent research has revealed.  Policy and services must be improved in Scotland using evidence based research.”

The seven issues are:

1. The UK Trade Union Act should not be implemented in Scotland. 

We call upon the Scottish Government to give a pledge that where it is the direct employer, it will not seek to enforce the new balloting mandate thresholds or the new picketing requirements; it will agree to the extension of balloting mandates; it will support measures to introduce e-balloting; and it will agree to notice of action remaining at one week. We also call upon the Scottish Government to use its influence with those public bodies which it directly funds to do the same.

2. Economic and Industrial Democracy

Currently, both Scotland and Britain are in the bottom half of the European league table for democracy at work. The Foundation does not believe the Fair Work Convention’s ‘Fair Work Framework’ will drastically change this situation because it has no statutory underpinning. The Scottish Government should adopt a strategy which gives workers the means to control their work and working lives which will then enable the economy to thrive.

3. The Fair Work Convention

The Scottish Government established the Fair Work Convention in order to engage in a limited form of social partnership with unions and employers. The Convention has published the framework document by which it hopes to facilitate this social partnership.  Many legislative powers relevant to the FWF are reserved to Westminster but the Scottish Government can use its limited devolved powers to make an impact.

4. Scottish Government’s Block Grant

The Scottish Government’s block grant (BG) has been adjusted now that the fiscal settlement has been agreed to cover Scotland’s increased devolved powers from Westminster via the Scotland Act 2016.  The negotiating processes for the fiscal settlement have resulted in a poor deal for Scotland and that needs to be fixed.

5. Soundly Based, Timely Statistics are Essential for Economic Growth

Two problems remain to be addressed if the Scottish Government is to increase competitiveness, tackle inequality and move onto a more balanced growth path which better withstands global economic shocks: decide if the current management of trade support agencies is likely to achieve the objectives of the Scottish Government’s economic strategy; whether the quality of the databases available, the most fundamental tool by which to judge performance, are up to the task in hand.

6. Scottish Ports

Scotland’s major ports are inadequate, outdated, and expensive. Freight traffic moving through Iceland, Ireland and Flemish ports is far greater than in Scotland despite our economic growth depending on trade expanding.  The Scottish Government must act to enable our economy to benefit from direct access to international markets via advanced, low-cost ports in Scotland and related shipping services.

7. Human Rights

The Scottish Government should give effect to its high level commitments on human rights by changing the framework for respecting, protecting and fulfilling human rights.  That includes establishing a Human Rights Committee at the Scottish Parliament and amending the law to enable the Scottish Human Rights Commission to take ‘test cases’.

The full document is available Agenda for Action May 2016 

Failure of the Fair Work Framework

Apr 17, 2016 Add a comment

In a new ‘Quick Note’ for the Jimmy Reid Foundation, the recent announcement (21 March) of the ‘Fair Work Framework’ is critiqued. The Framework is the first major publication of the Fair Work Convention which was established by the SNP Scottish Government in 2015. The critique by Gregor Gall, professor of industrial relations at the University of Bradford, shows that while the Framework has laudable aims it is completely woeful in providing the mechanisms by which to achieve these aims. Professor Gall, thus, concludes that the Framework fails at the first hurdle. Professor Gall will launch the critique at a lunchtime fringe meeting at the STUC Congress in Dundee this Monday 18 April.

The Fair Work Framework states its vision is that ‘by 2025, people in Scotland will have a world-leading working life where fair work drives success, wellbeing and prosperity for individuals, businesses, organisations and society’ with the fair work being defined as that which ‘offers effective voice, opportunity, security, fulfilment and respect; that balances the rights and responsibilities of employers and workers and that can generate benefits for individuals, organisations and society’.

So the Framework is strong on aspiration but entirely woeful on the means of delivering these aspirations because the Scottish Government refuses to contemplate using its existing and future legal powers to compel employers to achieve the aims in their workplaces. In other words, the Framework is an entirely voluntary affair like other initiatives of the Scottish Government (like the Scottish Business Pledge).

The critique for the Jimmy Reid Foundation suggests that not only could the SNP Scottish Government’s considerable power through procurement be used but that the Scottish Government abdicates responsibility for its own Framework by ruling out having an accreditation system (like the independent living wage system has) for employers seeking to implement the Framework’s aims or periodic reviews of progress made towards attaining those aims.

Professor Gall commented: ‘Given that the Scottish Government is intent upon pursuing a voluntarist approach to achieving ‘fair work’, it should at least commit to periodic assessments of its plan. And because the Scottish Government is the employer or awarder of contracts through procurement, it should specify a contract of rights for workers to attain the aims of the Framework. Ultimately, the Scottish Government must undertakes steps to put on a statutory footing the institutional mechanisms for achieving the aims of its Framework. Otherwise, it will not be worth the paper it is written upon’.

The critique of the Fair Work Framework is here FWCframework  and a recent paper for the Jimmy Reid Foundation on achieving industry democracy using an array of means which including statutory powers can be found at http://reidfoundation.org/the-library/