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

Cross party meeting to secure BiFab’s future

Yesterday in Parliament I held a cross party meeting at the Scottish Parliament to discuss the future of Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab). The meeting saw trade union representatives and workers from the yard lobby and answer questions with a number of MSPs from Scottish Labour, the SNP, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and the Green Party.

With the company coming to the end of its Beatrice Contract there are concerns that a gap in the order book could see reductions to full time staff with the possibility of two of the three yards having to close their gates.

I am pleased that workers had the opportunity to lobby MSPs directly just as they successfully did in 2015. I’d also like to thank all the MSPs that turned up to listen to their concerns, the turnout shows that BiFab workers have the clear support of the Scottish Parliament.

We must use that political will to try and secure the long term future of the yard. We must now put pressure on the UK Government and engage with the consortiums tendering their contracts for the year ahead. Continue reading

Claire raises BiFab’s future at FMQs

Recently I met with BiFab workers and trade union representatives at their yard in Methil to discuss their future and concerns as we near the end of their current Beatrice contract.

I also raised the issue directly with the First Minister during FMQs where I called for continued Government support to ensure we can protect jobs and the company can survive any gap in their order book.

That is why I am hosting a meeting in the Scottish Parliament tomorrow to allow trade union members to meet and lobby MSPs from all parties as we work to secure the future of the yards.

I previously held a similar lobby in 2015, which led to cross party pressure on the UK Government ahead of the awarding of the current Beatrice contract. 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

Claire calls for Levenmouth Rail meeting

Following the appointment of Humza Yousaf MSP as the Scottish Government’s new Transport Minister I have written requesting a meeting to discuss the reintroduction of the Levenmouth rail link.

In my letter I highlighted that Levenmouth is the largest conurbation in Scotland that is not currently serviced by a rail link and outlined the benefits it would bring to commuters and employers such Diageo and Fife Energy Park.

During the recent Scottish Parliament election, I stood on a pledge of the re-introduction of the rail link and successfully lobbied to have it included in my party’s manifesto.

Despite the election result I am still committed to pushing for its reintroduction due to the clear benefits it would bring to the area. Continue reading

Claire celebrates Coalfields Regeneration Trust

Today I took part in a member’s debate celebrating the work of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust.

The trust is based in Alloa and has worked across the Mid Scotland and Fife region in the past 15 years carrying out excellent work regenerating and addressing the challenges facing former mining communities.

Thirty years after the decline of the coal industry, there is a continuing legacy of poverty and deprivation, a set of circumstances which in recent years, has faced further pressure. There are still worse levels of deprivation in coalfield committees when compared to other areas, and the Trust report that Fife, by some margin, has the largest and most pronounced concentration of coalfield deprivation in Scotland.

I was able to highlight the Trusts work in Methil, where they provided grants to groups and projects through their Participatory Budget Fund. The fund has proved a success and for every £1 invested though participatory budgeting an additional £5 of external funding has been secured.

Communities living with poverty often feel remote from decision making or feel as if their vote at the ballot box doesn’t change their lives or community very much. Projects such as this give communities power, control and decision making, bring people together to improve their community and I am happy to continue to work with them in delivering change in Mid Scotland and Fife.

BiFab meet in Parliament to raise concerns

Today I was pleased to welcome workers and trade union representatives from BiFab to meet with MSPs from all parties to discuss the future of the yard.

Previously I have raised and discussed with the Government fears over the yards future as it competes for contracts. It is vital that we all work together to secure the future of the yards and workforce in Methil, Burntisland and Arnish.

I was pleased to welcome Richard Leonard, Michael Sullivan, Alan Ritchie and Gary Smith from GMB and Bob McGregor from Unite to hear workers concerns.

Havelock Europa Concerns

Yesterday it was announced that Havelock Europa, based in Kirkcaldy, lost £2 million off the value of its shares after it announced the loss of a contract worth up to £14 million to the company.

Understandably this has led to a fear of further job losses on top of the 50 announced earlier this year. I have spoken to senior management in the company who have assured me that they are doing all they can to mitigate the impact of yesterday’s announcement.

I will continue to keep in contact with the company to ensure that they have all the support they need in their plans to diversify and maintain as much of their workforce as possible.

Claire votes against Trade Union Bill

Following last week’s protest outside Fife House against the Conservative Government’s Trade Union Bill I was delighted to join colleagues in voting against the Bill in Parliament.

The Bill, introduced by the Conservative Government, is an attack on workers’ rights and weakens local democracy. I am pleased the Fife Council have spoken out against the Bill and I hope that Scottish Parliament’s vote will put more pressure on the UK Government.

Before the debate I was pleased to join local and national trade unions – including a delegation from Fife – in protesting against the Bill outside the Scottish Parliament.

I have previously raised the issue in the Scottish Parliament and I held street surgeries in Fife, promoting our petition against the bill. Currently over 300,000 people have signed Labour’s petition against the bill – if you haven’t you can sign up here:

Scottish Labour is proud to stand against this ideological attack from the Tories on working people and I hope you can join us.

You can watch the full debate below or read the official report here.