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STUC Congress 2024 Labour MSPs hail 'landmark' congress

After Congress backed action issues from austerity to a just transition, and defeating resurgent fascist networks, West of Scotland MSP KATY CLARK and her South of Scotland colleague CAROL MOCHAN offered their takes on the 127th Scottish Trades Union Congress in Dundee

KATY CLARK told the Star: “Workers in Scotland continue to face a cost-of-living crisis, public services and local government budgets being slashed, and a Tory government hell-bent on eroding their hard-won rights to strike and protest.

“But the success of the STUC Conference this week shows the labour movement is still full of fight despite these various challenges.

“I welcomed motions on the need for a green industrial strategy. As it stands, multinationals and even foreign governments are benefiting more from Scotland’s green economy, with the number of jobs in low-carbon and renewables actually declining at a time when companies are raking in huge profits. We need a public sector-led approach, co-ordinated with unions, to reverse this trend.”

Turning to her long-running campaign to secure CalMac ferries and the future of the crucial Arran sailing from Ardrossan — a route under threat despite it being the Scottish government-owned operator’s busiest — she continued:

“Speaking at the RMT union’s People’s CalMac event on Monday, I similarly made the point that the future of our public ferry services will only be assured if the Scottish government comes forward with a strategy to build up the industrial capacity needed here in Scotland to replenish the fleet our islanders rely upon.

“The key message sent this week is that it will not be possible to transition into a fairer, greener and more prosperous economy without co-ordinated planning and that means workers leading from the front across all sectors.

“At a time when big solutions are lacking from the parties in power at Westminster and Holyrood, it is the labour movement filling the void. Alongside colleagues, I intend to continue fighting for policies which secure a radical shift in power and wealth towards working people.”

For Carol Mochan, fresh from addressing a Campaign for Socialism fringe event on the future of the labour movement, the experiences shared by comrades from across the movement at Congress brought home the need for a New Deal for Workers, and a trade union movement organised and determined to ensure the next Labour government deliver on the policy which would see exploitative zero-hour contracts axed, fire and rehire practices outlawed, a real living wage, and an expansion of sick pay and employment rights with the scrapping of the Tories’ 2016 anti-trade union laws.

Contrasting the Labour pledge — repeated by Scottish leader Anas Sarwar in his address to Congress — with the recent SNP-Green Scottish government decision to slash £38 million in funding from a scheme designed to deliver fair work and better pay in the notoriously low-paid and insecure care sector, the socialist MSP told the Star:

“STUC Congress is a vital part of the political year and it is growing with importance as people realise the end of the Tory government is approaching.

“I have been speaking to trade unionists from across Scotland and they sense that we are on the cusp of a historic opportunity for workers’ rights. So much of the damage of the last 14 years can be corrected if we hit the ground running after the general election.

“I am glad that Anas Sarwar has so clearly stated his commitment to Labour’s New Deal for Working People and we will be doing everything we can to ensure that is a key part of the first 100 days of a Labour government. There will be absolutely no question of Scottish Labour MPs standing up for workers’ rights in the next Parliament.

“We have to tip the balance of power into the hands of workers. My commitment to that cause is unwavering.”

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