Claire grills STV Chief Exec on job losses

In light of STV’s announcement that they are closing STV2, reducing their news provision and axing 57 jobs, the station’s Chief Executive was hauled in front of the Culture Committee yesterday to be grilled by MSPs.

There I asked – in light of £18m in profits and his own salary and remuneration package in excess of £1.2m – why they are putting shareholders before staff and viewers.

Mr Pitts’ also refused to rule out compulsory redundancies, which is deeply concerning for all involved at the station. There are real fears within the sector and from myself that job losses and the reduction in news programming will damage the company’s ability to properly serve all of Scotland’s communities.

These cuts are being carried out by a chief executive who is paid a gold-plated salary package equivalent to UK national broadcast bosses whilst at the same time he is turning STV from a national news broadcaster into little more than a regional outfit.

Scotland needs a vibrant and strong independent broadcaster to hold governments at Westminster and Holyrood to account. STV’s ability to carry out that role is being put at serious risk with these cuts.

Growth Commission Topical Question

Yesterday in Parliament I quizzed the Cabinet Secretary for Finance on the SNP’s latest plans for an independent Scotland.

With plans to get Scotland’s deficit below 3% from the current 8.3% it is clear that under the SNP an independent Scotland would face at least a decade of austerity max. This is not a Growth Commission but rather a Cuts Commission.

Scotland cannot afford another decade of austerity. With over a quarter of a million children living in poverty and pensioner poverty having increase by 33% since 2010 we need action now.

That is why a Labour Government would invest to grow our economy, including £70 billion in Scotland over the next decade.

Only Labour is proposing the real and radical change that Scotland needs.

Nominate your Young Scot today

Outside the Scottish Parliament I recently joined previous nominees and winners of the Young Scot Awards and youth ambassadors who are celebrating the Year of Young People 2018 on the Young Scot Awards Citylink bus.

The bus will tour around Scotland with an aim to encourage others to make a nomination for an inspirational young person for this year’s awards.

Through my role as an MSP, I hear about so many inspirational young people who make a positive impact as individuals, work hard in school, and in our local communities.

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Claire quizzes Goverment on out-of-hours closures

Last week I raised the closure of the out of hours centres in Dunfermline, St Andrews and Glenrothes with the Health Secretary.

Tonight there will be a public meeting in St Andrews with another scheduled to take place in Dunfermline.

I have been warning the Scottish Government of a GP crisis for some time. If there are well known difficulties with practices struggling to recruit GPs for during the day, it is unsurprising that finding cover at night is even harder.

In response to my question the Scottish Government admitted that there were “significant issues” in Fife. Continue reading

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

Claire backs MS Awareness Week

I was happy this week to show my support for MS Society Scotland’s Awareness week which runs between 23-29 April to raise awareness of the important role research plays in the lives of people affected by MS.

I know that research into improving treatments for MS sufferers is vital for improving daily life for those living with the illness.

MS Society Scotland’s ‘Kiss Goodbye to MS’ campaign encourages people to give up their guilty pleasure this May to raise money for research and you can get involved by visiting their website.

Claire Hosts Climate Change Event with Faith Leaders

Last week I was pleased to host a Faith Leaders and Climate Change event at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, with SCIAF, Christian Aid, Tearfund Scotland and Islamic Relief.

The event launched a strong statement from Faith Leaders from across Scotland who have joined forces to urge the Scottish Parliament to strengthen its Climate Change Act.

The statement calls for Parliament to pass a “strong and ambitious Climate Change Act; one which reflects Scotland’s fair share of global efforts and one which puts Scotland firmly on the path towards an inclusive, low-carbon future in which we can all flourish.”

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BiFab buyout welcomed

Great news for workers at BiFab today as it has been announced that Canadian company DF Barnes has secured the future of the yards in Methil, Burntisland and Arnish.

This is testimony to the commitment, attitude and effort of the workforce and trade unions which has been nothing short of exemplary in a time of great uncertainty for the company.

As the full details of the deal emerge we need to ensure that as much of the existing workforce as possible are able to remain in their roles, whilst growing the company to ensure those that lost their jobs are offered opportunities to return.

This must be the next step in cementing the long term future of BiFab and the yards. We now have the opportunity to put BiFab at the heart of Scotland’s renewable sector whilst competing in a worldwide market. This will hopefully secure much needed jobs for the local economy.

Throughout my time as a local MSP I have been fully supportive of the yards and the workers. I hope to meet with representatives from DF Barnes at the earliest opportunity, hear about their plans for the future and offer any support I can in securing new contracts.

Claire backs Asbestos Action Tayside

I am backing Asbestos Actions’ calls to improve care for asbestos sufferers across the country. That is why I joined the group at Holyrood to launch their new support booklet for those affected by the conditions.

Asbestos related conditions claim around 3,000 lives in the UK every year. To put that in context, that is more than are killed on the roads throughout the country.

Asbestos-related diseases occur when people breathe in asbestos fibre which can lead to benign conditions like pleural plaques where the lining of the lungs or ribcage calcify or terminal cancers like mesothelioma which can prove fatal just weeks after diagnosis. Continue reading

Government must step in to save Youth Theatre

Today I called for the Scottish Government to step in and secure the future of the Scottish Youth Theatre.

In what can only be seen as an embarrassment for the Government, The Scottish Youth Theatre will cease to trade during the Scottish Government’s ‘Year of Young People’ due to a lack of funding.

It was announced this week that the theatre will close on the 31st of July after it was unsuccessful in securing 3-year regular funding from Creative Scotland. The Scottish Government previously funded the youth theatre with support from Clyde Blowers following financial difficulties in 2014.

The Scottish Government cannot sit idly by and watch such a popular cultural institution shut down. The Scottish Youth Theatre has seen many of the country’s most successful talents tread their boards. This opportunity cannot be lost to future generations. Continue reading