by Richie Venton, SSP national trade union organiser
Main photo: Max McKay – Richie Venton, USDAW NEC member addresses 200-strong trade union solidarity rally at Strathclyde University.
“No capitulation!” “Reject the deal and sustain the strike!”
That was the angry message from the ranks of striking university staff to their own UCU union leadership after a “deal” was declared in the first real day of talks with university bosses, sponsored by ACAS, on the night of Monday 12th.
Strikers – comprising lecturers, research staff, librarians, IT and other student support staff – were a mixture of flabbergasted, bitterly disappointed and absolutely furious on hearing (on Monday night) that the UCU negotiators wished to accept an offer that still meant savage cuts to pensions,
Union activist, shop steward and workplace convenor Richie Venton has won a resounding victory in a hard fought contest for two Scottish seats on the UK executive of the retail and distribution union USDAW.
Richie fought the contest on a platform of progressive left demands including an immediate wage of £10 an hour and guarantees of 16 hours work to replace zero hours contracts and greater autonomy on Scottish affairs.
His second place with 17.2% in an eight way contest for two places clearly indicates the growing support for change.
Commenting on the result Richie, who is also the SSP’s workplace organiser, said:
“I argued for hard hitting socialist measures to radically redistribute wealth away from the multinationals and multimillionaires to the working class millions who produce society’s wealth.”
“The foundation of my positive result is many years of organising and representing grass roots members at work which has taken the union’s membership in my workplace from 15 to 70% alongside growing support for a fighting stance on issues such as jobs and pay.”
“USDAW is the fourth biggest union in the UK and the retail and distribution sector organised by it includes shops,
Richie Venton remembers lifelong peace activist, teacher and much-loved socialist Ron Mackay
It is with profound sadness and sense of loss we have to announce the death of SSP member and good friend to many of us, Ron Mackay.
Ron, aged 93, was a lifelong socialist and peace activist, and above all an inspiration to several generations who wanted to cleanse the world of war and hunger, and of their roots in the capitalism he detested with every fibre of his body.
Ron was a dedicated activist for his beliefs. He faced arrest several times during anti-nuclear weapons protests spanning over 50 years. And to illustrate that his activism never waned,
The timing could not have been more obscenely appropriate, as a symbol of the cold class warfare facing working class people under Tory rule, and indeed under the rule of capital over labour in general.
Hot on the heels of the destructive closure of SSI steel plant in Redcar, shedding 2,200 jobs, came the devastation of Tata Steel’s closure announcement, slashing 1,200 jobs in Scunthorpe, Motherwell and Cambuslang. These closures threaten the permanent end of the steel industry in Scotland.
Even before the election of the Tories – by a mere 24% of registered UK voters – Britain boasted the reprehensible record of having some of the most repressive anti-worker, anti-union laws in the western world. Now David Cameron and his Business Secretary, Sajid Javid, have declared a war on workers’ rights that exceeds even the worst assaults the hated Maggie Thatcher dared impose.
Their Trade Union Bill – and three accompanying so-called ‘consultations’ designed to add an additional dose of repression to existing laws without having to pass primary legislation – are potentially the biggest threat to rights at work in at least 50 years, and possibly since the infamous Taff Vale Act of 1901.
A special archive podcast for friends and comrades today. Richie Venton, in addition to being the Scottish Socialist Party’s national workplace organiser, was formerly a prominent activist in the titanic struggles that took part in the city of Liverpool against the Thatcher Government in the early 80s.
Ahead of tomorrow’s vast STUC and UK-wide protests, these are valuable firsthand accounts of a struggle that can inform today’s battle against a brutal Tory majority government at the height of their power – and winning significant victories and concessions, many of which survive to this day.
The thousands who join the Scotland United Against Austerity rally this Saturday, 20 June, in Glasgow’s George Square will be united in sending a simple, stark message to the Tories: you have no mandate to rule and ruin Scotland, and we’re not going to lie down and accept your butchery!
Only 10 per cent of Scotland’s voters backed the Tories. Yet Cameron, Osborne and their Old-Etonian bootboys plan an assault on our lives that surpasses even the Dark Ages of Maggie Thatcher.