SNP – pay the porters now!

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In Dundee, the all-out strike of 117 hospital porters is moving into its ninth week. The porters, members of Unite and Unison, have been in dispute over their pay grading which is set at the lowest level in the NHS. They are seeking regrading and the payment of back money owed over years. Years of poverty pay and getting nowhere with intransigent management and dishonest negotiation has forced the workers to withdraw their labour. The picket lines have been solidly maintained at Ninewells and Royal Victoria Hospitals. Donations have poured in to support the low-paid staff and they have marched in solidarity with striking council care workers in Glasgow.

In Glasgow the care workers face a Labour council opposed to their just demands but in Dundee the porters face an NHS management supposedly under the direction of the Scottish National Party’s Shona Robinson. Robinson is both a Dundee MSP and the Scottish Health Minister; she could solve the dispute with one phone call but has not done so. Recently-elected Dundee West SNP MP, Chris Law, has refused to support the Ninewells Porters. He turned his back on the May Day march in Dundee when the chant went up ‘SNP – Pay the porters!’. The strikers and their growing number of supporters are asking quite rightly what has happened to the trumpeted claims of the SNP to be against austerity. The strikers have been making links with a campaign against the closure of the local Menzieshill High secondary school by the majority SNP council which runs Dundee. The campaign’s first meeting heard women who had joined the SNP and voted Yes in the referendum declare that they had not done so in order to stand by and watch the SNP close schools.

The highest general election vote in Scotland for the Trade Union and Socialist Alliance was 340 votes for Unison Secretary Jim McFarlane. The strikers refused to vote for the SNP and voted TUSC because of the basic solidarity the Socialist Party had delivered. Dundee Against Welfare Sanctions (DAWS) also joined the picket lines and were encouraged to set up the Ninewells Porters Support Group. Its first action was to call a very successful 50-strong picket of the main SNP office, which Dundee RCG/FRFI supported and spoke at. The porters want to regularise this direct challenge to the SNP and have spoken of supporting DAWS on their weekly protests at the Wellgate Job Centre.

Michael MacGregor

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 245 June/July 2015

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