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.

Claire stands up for Trade Unions

I was delighted to join with colleagues from Fife Labour and local trade union members in protesting against the Conservative Government’s Trade Union bill.

This bill is an attack on workers’ rights putting unrealistic restrictions on protests and strikes. It is also weakens local democracy, potentially impacting on their relationships with public sector workers and the trade unions.

Previously I have raised the issue in the Scottish Parliament along with joining colleagues in holding street surgeries in Kirkcaldy to gain support for our petition.

Over 300,000 people have already signed Labour’s petition against the bill and I hope you can join me in signing up here ->

Claire continues Levenmouth rail campaign

As the campaign continues to reinstate the Levenmouth Rail Link I was delighted to meet with those involved in my office in Kirkcaldy.

Since I was elected as an MSP in 2007 I have been campaigning on the issue and I have previously held debates in the Scottish Parliament calling for its reintroduction.

Levenmouth is still one of the largest urban areas in Scotland not to be serviced by a working rail link. This is despite much of the tracks still intact.

Following the recent opening of Borders railway, Levenmouth Rail Link should be the Scottish Government’s and Transport Scotland’s next railway priority.

Last month during General Questions in the Scottish Parliament I called for the Scottish Government to commit to the rail link. You can watch a video of the question time below, my question is at 9 minutes.

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