Claire calls for support to save BiFab jobs

This week I questioned the Scottish Government on the shock announcement of redundancies at BiFab.

I have worked closely with workers at the yards in the recent fights for their future and will continue to do so during these troubled times.

With the Scottish Government knowing about these job losses two days before workers, there are serious questions to be asked about worker and trade union engagement.

I also asked the Scottish Government – who has a stake in the yards – what they will do to bridge the gap while the company bids for new long term contracts. Continue reading

Cross-party effort to help secure BiFab jobs

Following the cross-party BiFab meeting I arranged before recess, it was agreed that we would join together to lobby the U.K. Government to call for their support for BiFab and their yards. 

These yards are vital for the Fife economy and the workers in Methil and Burntisland deserve all the praise they have been receiving for the work that they are continuing to do during these precarious times for the company.

That is why I was joined by MSPs from all parties as we put our names to a letter to the Business Secretary Greg Clark calling on him to do all he can to encourage investment into BiFab and work towards the Kincardine Offshore Windfarm Project being awarded to Burntisland Fabrications.

Parliament is speaking with one voice on this. All five parties have signed the letter and we are all clear, the future of BiFab must be secured

You can read the full text of the letter below: Continue reading

Claire speaks out against bank closures

Over the course of last year, it was announced that Mid Scotland and Fife would lose 26 local bank branches.

The Royal Bank of Scotland announced the closure of 14 branches over the course of 2 rounds of closures. Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale Bank and the TSB also announced the closures of 4 branches each.

Amongst the areas hit in the region are Alloa, Dunblane, Perth, Cowdenbeath, Kirkcaldy, Leven, Cupar, Bridge of Allan, and Lochgelly.

I spoke out against these closures during a debate in the Scottish Parliament. We will now see a whole host of towns and villages without high street banks.

Continue reading

Claire joins Day of Action Against Blacklisting

On December the 6th I joined colleagues in attending the Day of Action Against Blacklisting lobby outside the Scottish Parliament. The day was part of a long running campaign from Unite the Union into blacklisting within the construction industry.

Cases of blacklisting within construction companies is unacceptable. These workers give their time and skill to their employers and should be rewarded for their duty, not punished.

As part of the campaign, Unite is calling for a full public enquiry into blacklisting, for the process to be considered a criminal offence, and for companies found blacklisting to be barred from bidding for public sector contracts.

I am disappointed at the lack of clarity on the Scottish Government’s stance on this issue, with the reluctance to launch an inquiry into blacklisting. Our workers deserve full justice and to have their voices heard. Continue reading

Urgent Question – Fire Cuts

Today I asked an urgent question in the Scottish Parliament following reports from the BBC that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service plans to close fire stations and reduce firefighter numbers.

These reports are concerning; it is vital that any ‘transformation’ of our emergency services is carried out in response to evaluating risk. However, reports point to these changes being made as the result of a squeeze on resources.

Audit Scotland have previously warned of a £43 million budget gap, the leaked report claims that our fire service is facing “the greatest financial challenge seen in decades” and the Chief Fire Officer has admitted that the current model is “unsustainable” and could not last beyond the current financial year. Continue reading

Police Scotland concerns in Fife

Today in an exclusive from the Courier the impact on Police Scotland’s “challenging” budget has been laid bare.

According to a whistleblower from Fife, moral amongst local officers is “dreadful” and the number of staff “decimated”.

Concerns have also been raised that the force came close to not being able to pay wages on time. This has been denied by the Scottish Police Authority, the Scottish Government and Police Scotland, although the latter did admit that managing their budgets was “challenging”. Continue reading

Claire backs National Guarantee for care workers

I’m calling for a national guarantee for care workers in Mid Scotland and Fife that will see all workers paid the living wage and an end to exploitative zero hour contracts.

With an aging population and patients suffering from complex and multiple conditions, social care will be one of the biggest challenges facing the health service in the years ahead.

The easiest thing to do would be to continue a sticker plaster approach to health and social care in Scotland but we must meet this challenge head on.

As a result of the Chancellors spending review carried out last month, the Scottish Parliament will receive health consequentials of around £400 million.

I joined colleagues in the Scottish Parliament in putting forward proposals for using the majority of extra revenue to invest in social care.

We need to ensure that we have a health service that is fit for the future and meets the health needs of Scots in the years ahead.  Continue reading

Tax credit cuts – the new poll tax

As the Conservative continue their plans to introduce cuts to tax credits, official statistics has shown that this will impact up to 43,000 families in Mid Scotland and Fife.

According to figures, Kirkcaldy may be the hardest hit, with just under 7,000 families receiving child or working tax credits, which face being cut by the Conservative Government. Cowdenbeath will see just under 6,000 facing cuts with 5,700 in Mid Fife and Glenrothes under threat

Tax credits where introduced by Gordon Brown and the Labour Government to tackle in work poverty. Under the proposed cuts working families could be hit by on average £1,300 a year.

The ideological cuts to tax credits by the Conservative Government has the potential to be their new poll tax and I hope you will stand up for families in Scotland and join us in opposing the cut. Continue reading

Havelock Europa concerns raised

Earlier this month Havelock Europa announced a restructuring of its business that will see up to 50 workers lose their job. Following this news I raised the issue in the Scottish Parliament with the Business Minister.

During that question I received assurances that those currently going through their apprenticeships would not be affected by the plan to cut the company’s workforce by 10%. This is a move that I welcome.

However it has since been announced that the company has reported a pre-tax loss in the first 6 months of this year of £1.8 million, combined with a drop in group revenues of 5.2%.

This will bring further worry and insecurity to the workforce, which is why I have written to both Havelock Europa and the Scottish Government to seek reassurances there will be no further job losses.

I appreciate that for many business the current climate is challenging and the local Fife economy has been dealt many blows in recent weeks and months from the closure of Tesco in Kirkcaldy, the closure of Tullis Russell and redundancies at Bi Fab. That is why we must work together.

You can read my letters to the Chief Executive of Havelock Europa and the Business Minister below. Continue reading

Post study work visa steering group

I am pleased to announce that I will be taking part in a cross party steering group established by the Scottish Government to work towards the reintroduction of the Post Study Work Visa in Scotland. The group will include members of all the major Scottish parties such as the Minister for Europe and International Development Humza Yousaf, and John Finnie MSP as well as representatives from the business and college and university sector.

The post study work visa was first introduced by the then First Minister Jack McConnell and his Labour led executive. Then it was part of the Fresh Talent scheme and its success in Scotland led to it being rolled out across the UK by the then Labour Government. Unfortunately it was then cancelled by the coalition during the last Westminster term.

The previous post study work visa allowed international students to remain and work in Scotland for 2 years following graduation from university, with the aim is to attract and retain world-class talent in Scotland. Continue reading