Scottish workers face the fight of their lives, the fightback for the left starts on the picket lines – Campaign for Socialism


“The fightback for the organised left starts on workers’ picket lines. We as the organised left in Scotland have an opportunity this weekend to start rebuilding.”

By Scott Hartles, Campaign for Socialism

Scottish Labour meet this weekend and as always is the case, so do the organised left. On Saturday after conference Campaign for Socialism, alongside the Red Paper Collective, will be holding our fringe meeting.

Workers all over Scotland are facing the fight of their lives. Workers have faced real term pay cuts for over 30 years and now they are saying enough is enough. Fifty Co-op coffin makers were offered a derisory offer of 9% over two years whilst inflation was at a 40 year high. With this dispute rolling on the Co-op has now spent over 1 million pounds outsourcing the building of coffins. Co-op stated that they were “disappointed to be facing further strike action relating to pay from colleagues in their coffin factory, particularly given their recent pay offer, which represented a significant increase for colleagues.” Honestly, the absolute brass neck of Co-op’s management. It’s still a real term pay cut. These workers deserve better.

As well as the 50 Co-op coffin makers, there is strike action taking place all over Scotland. Scotland’s teachers and teaching assistants have been striking for a fair pay deal, University lecturers and staff have been fighting for such a long time over a decent and fair pay rise, secure employment, and proper pensions. Railway workers and train drivers are facing the fight of their lives for an above inflation pay rise, suitable working conditions, and job security. There are lots of disputes right now and apologies if I have missed yours.

It would be wrong of me not to mention the postal dispute as CWU Assistant Regional Secretary Scotland and local CWU postal representative. At the time of writing, we have just had our second ballot result announced which was a return of 77.33%, yes votes 95.93%, and no 4.07%. This dispute has been labelled our generations miner’s strike. It is true that we as postal workers are facing the fight of our lives with a senior management team that are set on breaking the USO by making letter deliveries 5 days a week and focusing heavily on parcels.

I am sure like me dear reader you took a keen interest in the business select committee, chaired by Darren Jones MP, when Dave Ward (CWU General Secretary), Andy Furey (Acting Deputy General Secretary Postal), and Simon Thompson (CEO Royal Mail) were called up in January. What was interesting to me was the evidence that Darren Jones MP had. For instance, the posters explaining the hierarchy of the mail (i.e., letters mattered the least so leave them if you can’t take them). Basically, the universal service obligation is already being ignored. New starts are on worse terms and conditions, sick pay cut, basic pay cut, paid breaks cut. Everything that the union has fought hard for has been challenged with the business wanting to take it away and create a two-tier workforce.

We are told we are greedy for fighting for what we deserve, whilst the Royal Mail CEO is on 20 times what an average postal worker earns. Postal workers risked their lives throughout the pandemic making the business over 700 million pounds. Whilst we were working, 400 million pounds was dished out to shareholders in 2022. This was meant to be a different kind of privatisation as Moya Greene put it. That was a lie.

I always get emotional when I think about workers standing up for themselves. Our class, our movement, has been through enough and now we are saying enough is enough. It’s inspiring and exciting. For example, take the refuse workers in Edinburgh. They stood strong against the pressure of not taking industrial action during the Fringe Festival, they made the city a right mess and credit to them. They fought hard and won a 10% pay increase for the lowest paid. Organised collective action works and there is always proof in the history of workers in Scotland.

You may be wondering what Campaign for Socialism has to do with striking workers, we as socialists stand alongside those workers. We are those workers. That’s why when one group of workers organise, all workers and Socialists organise. When one group of workers win, every worker wins. The fightback for the organised left starts on workers’ picket lines. We as the organised left in Scotland have an opportunity this weekend to start rebuilding. Whilst the UK leadership try to emphatically push socialists out of the party, we will be working tirelessly to relay the foundations for a movement and build on these foundations. Not a movement of ‘Corbynism’ but of Socialism.

We have a world to win and today we start with the foundations.

  • Scott Hartles is the Assistant regional Secretary of Scotland CWU,
  • Campaign for Socialism and Red Paper Collective fringe meeting is on Saturday 18th February at 5:30pm in the Hanover Tap in Edinburgh.
  • You can follow the Campaign for Socialism on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Featured image: The Campaign for Socialism Scotland EGM in Glasgow on January 14th, 2023. Photo credit: CfS/ Twitter.

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