Rare wildcat spotted

IssueSeptember 2007
News by Declan McCormick

Until the May elections, the existence of a presence in the Scottish parliament of both a united left party and the greens (with six and four seats respectively) had been presented by commentators as evidence of a deep-rooted rad icalism amongst significant sections of the Scottish populace.

Whilst a particularly nasty split in the Scottish Socialist Party contributed to the loss of all their seats in May 2007, and, quite separately, the Green Party's representation halved, the reality is that social radicalism is not as widespread or as deep as had been believed.

However, recent developments in what used to be called the class struggle suggest that whatever happens in parliament, everyday resistance continues.

As PN goes to press, 600 Glas- gow Council social care workers are continuing a month-long all-out strike action over new pay and gradings which mean that two-thirds will now need to work longer to reach the top of their grade.

The strike, much maligned by the local and national media, may be joined by 1,000 qualified social workers by the time PN hits the streets.

8,000 Edinburgh UNISON council workers are being balloted for strike action over cuts to service provision amounting to £10,000,000.

Wildcat posties

Postal workers in Scotland have been living up to the reputation posties have for being nearly the last bastion of wildcat strikes (where, regardless of the law, workers walk out when faced with management provocation).

At the moment, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) is in an official dispute with Royal Mail over changes to working practices and a below-inflation pay offer, but on 31 July Glasgow Mail Centre posties walked out unofficially over the suspension of colleagues.

Motherwell drivers refused to cross the picket line and pretty soon wildcat strikes were flaring up in 13 offices.

Workers in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh voted, many reluctantly, to return to work. The CWU has subsequently called off planned strikes pending new talks. (For the latest discussions amongst rank and file posties see http://www.royalmailchat.co.uk )


Elsewhere, the radical grassroots union, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), has been at the forefront of the fight to keep the Crichton (Dumfries) Campus of the University of Glasgow open.

Since the closure was announced in February, a series of public meetings, lobbies and protests by a coalition of students, the university IWW branch and the lecturers', union have kept the pressure on the principal, Sir Muir Russell.

The campaign has had broad support, not least because of the threatened reduced access to higher education for local students in semi-rural Dumfriesshire.

Signs of the times

These struggles, which suggest that people are not accepting rub- bish pay offers, negative changes in term and conditions and closures of valued facilities and services without a struggle, are not in themselves any sign that big changes are just around the corner in Scotland.

They do, however, bear testimony to the possibilities of building a social movement.

Topics: Labour movement
See more of: Scotland