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.

Scotland can be proud of Malawi link

The Scottish Parliament held a debate to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the signing of the cooperation agreement with Malawi. The agreement, delivered by then First Minister Jack McConnell, was signed in November 2005 and linked two countries and 17 million people together.

The co-operation agreement was also the first step towards the Scottish Government’s international development fund, which has led to many positive successes around the world.

At the time of the partnership agreement, Malawi was one of the poorest countries in the world. Its income per person was $160 per year, and despite having a population and land area more than double that of Scotland’s its economy was little more than 1 per cent of ours. At the time Falkirk’s local economy was twice the size of Malawi’s.

The country was suffering one of the worst HIV/AIDS epidemics in the world’ life expectancy had fallen from 45 to 37 years, and the number of orphans in Malawi numbered the entire population of Edinburgh.

Since the agreement 150 schools, 15 local authorities, all of Scotland’s universitites, most colleges and hundreds of NGOs, businesses, charities and ambassadors throughout Scotland has engaged with Malawi.

This includes a large number of partnerships within Mid Scotland and Fife. Fife Council was linked with team Malawi in the Glasgow Commonwealth games, and Fife College has a number of links to the country.

Local schools such as Kirkcaldy High and Burntisland Primary are linking pupils in Scotland with Malawi, informing and inspiring future generations in both countries. St Kenneth’s parish church has links with villages in the north of Malawi and is helping to build infrastructure, fresh-water boreholes, schools and sustainable income-generating projects to help to lift people out of poverty.

We now must look at the future of the next 10 years of the agreement and the 10 after that. The work and progress already achieved in health and education is to be celebrated but more can still be done to help boost the country’s fragile economy.

The co-operation agreement is a success story that the Parliament should be proud of. The past 10 years are an example to other nations and an example that we must continue. If we can assist in any way towards a sustainable economy, we will have laid the building blocks of a stable and, I hope, peaceful and prosperous country.

You can watch the debate below or read my speech in the official report here.

FRAE Fife Conference

I was delighted to be invited to FRAE Fife’s conference on Equalities and Citizenship in the current international, national and local context to give a keynote speech.

The conference, which took place in in the Old Kirk in Kirkcaldy, was well attended and informative and included speeches from politicians, lecturers and leading campaigners from across Scotland.

The event was an opportunity to discuss the impact of international and national events on Fife along with the approach of the UK and Scottish Governments to the implementation of equality policies.

I was pleased to be able to discuss the work I have done in the Scottish Parliament on the ongoing refugee crisis, the case of Sheku Bayoh’s death in police custody and the contribution people from around the world make to Scottish society.

I’d like to thank FRAE Fife for the opportunity to attend and speak at the conference. I hope that it will kick start a positive debate locally on how we ensure fairness, race awareness and equality in Fife.

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.

Scotrail admit reduction in Fife carriages

Following my letter to the Managing Director of Scotrail it has been confirmed to me that the number of coaches used during peak time in Fife has been reduced.

Last month I wrote to the Managing Director, Phil Verster, to raise the many concerns that had been brought to my attention regarding the peak train running with a reduction of coaches.

These complaints cantered around the 0709 service from Dundee to Edinburgh which calls at all stations via Burntisland and Dalgety Bay. This service was due to run with 6 coaches however ScotRail has now admitted that it will now only run with 4 coaches and has several times run with as few as 2 or 3.

I am disappointed with this response as it is unlikely that the service will revert back to being 6 coaches. This reduction fails to meet the demand on a line that is a key route for the many people in Fife who work in Edinburgh. It is unacceptable that people should be expected to travel in uncomfortable conditions.

I will be continuing to campaign Scotrail to have the service reinstated to the full 6 coaches.

Scottish Labour will stand up for working families

Yesterday Scottish Labour held a debate in the Scottish Parliament on working family tax credits. The debate followed an announcement from leader Kezia Dugdale at party conference in Perth.

Kezia announced that she plans to use the new powers developed to the Scottish parliament as a result of the Smith Commission to restore tax credits cut by the Conservative Government at Westminster.

Unfortunately the SNP failed to support the above motion submitted by Scottish Labour, stating at first that we didn’t have the powers, before u-turning and admitting that they did.

Cutting tax credits is a political choice, so too is choosing not to restore them in the Scottish Parliament. Instead the SNP would rather use new powers to cut prices to flights to Scotland.

Scottish Labour yesterday took a stand for working families and we will continue to do so.

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 ->

Home-start Kirkcaldy celebrates 21st birthday

On Monday Home-start Kirkcaldy celebrated their 21st birthday and AGM and I was delighted to join them along with Fife Councillor Judy Hamilton.

Home-Start Kirkcaldy offers support, friendship and practical help to parents with young children in Kirkcaldy, Kinghorn, Burntisland and Cardenden. You can find out more about them on their website: