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United for 2008

2007 brought some grounds for optimism amongst those involved in resisting attacks on local services and on workplace terms and condi- tions. PN asked some grassroots Scottish union activists for a personal view of the year and their hopes for the future.

No review could ignore the success of the Save Crichton Cam- paign in September, where united action by the University and College Union (UCU), International Workers of the World (IWW) and others stopped the closure of the Dumfries Campus of Glasgow University.

Success at Crichton

Ben Franks, UCU Dumfries: "The most successful actions embarrassed the Principal and his officials at prestigious events. As a result, the new Scottish government made the Crichton campus a top priority.

"Most course provision has been saved and new courses are being added. Whilst the site is still lacking basic infrastructure, the future is looking much brighter."

Ruth, IWW Dumfries: "Not only has the campus been saved, Dumfries got its first branch of the IWW up and running, and we have big plans... This time next year Dumfries could be less `the town that time forgot' and more `the town of the One Big Union'. Well, we live in hope!" Looking for the positive But for most union activists, 2007 has been another year of hard work in grim conditions.

Gerry, UNISON, Fife: "2007 saw workers having to resort to ever more strikes and conflicts with their employers, just to hold onto the conditions that they have now.

"The civil service losing up to 104,000 jobs, the posties' terms and conditions attacked and the ever-deepening financial crisis that councils find themselves in, that is being paid for by the loss of local authority workers' jobs and pensions.

"But the Burmese democracy activists and Colombian trade unionists organising in a climate of death and intimidation can inspire us.

"Effective trade unions, simply by existing, can be a rallying point for democracy and nonviolent opposition to corrupt regimes. Maybe British trade unions should look towards them for their New Year resolutions."

Duncan McCallum, Chairman Forth Valley Branch NUJ, NUJ Scottish Executive: "In 2007 journalists stepped up the fight against profit-obsessed managements whose efforts to cut costs and jobs are driving any hint of quality journalism to the margins.

"And it looks as if, in 2008, they are going to fight even harder. Journalists are tired of being used as purveyors of pap rather than writing about the things that really matter to the people of Scotland."

Resolution

A musician and union activist "Some active[ist] resolutions for 2008 [that I'm still working on keeping]":

"Get out of your neighbourhood - your little prisons of routine and habit.

"Have constant spontaneous conversations. Imagine for once what it's like to be the person serving you coffee.

"Join the One Big Union. Being part of the IWW will give you education your schooling left out, and help you empower your workplace from the bottom up.

"Pretend to teach children music - they will destroy your ego, and teach you. http://www.nhsgrampian.org/gkac

"Pass on good things. For example, The Past Didn't Go Anywhere by Utah Phillips and Ani DiFranco. What do you run to that you haven't let others know about yet?

Stop underestimating yourself. I mean, here was I thinking I was a songwriter and now I'm writing an article. Which I could have avoided doing. But then you wouldn't be reading it, now would you?" http://www.myspace.com/fionakeenan

Onwards!

Here's to a 2008 where optimism and a refusal to put up with what's thrown at us becomes the norm!

Topics: Labour movement