Trade Union Bill concerns raised in Parliament

Yesterday in Parliament I raised my opposition to the Conservative Government’s Trade Union bill which is currently making its way through the UK Parliament.

This bill is a draconian piece of legislation designed to attack the rights of workers that we have battled so hard for throughout the years.

Council Leaders from across Scotland, including the leader of Fife Council, David Ross, have come out against the bill and its potential impact on council workers.

Only last weekend I was out in Kirkcaldy gaining support for a petition against the bill. It is clear that there is a real strength of feeling that what the Tories are doing is wrong and must be stopped.

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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

Claire goes pink for breast cancer awareness

Last week I showed my support for women with breast cancer by dressing up in pink to encouraging constituents to take part in Breast Cancer Now’s flagship fundraiser, wear it pink, on Friday 23rd October.

Wear it pink, the UK’s biggest pink fundraiser, calls on supporters across the country to ditch the day-to-day colours and pull on some pink to raise money for Breast Cancer Now’s life-saving breast cancer research.

I was delighted to join fellow parliamentarians in wearing it pink in Holyrood to encourage people across Scotland to get involved.

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River City visit

Yesterday I joined local MSP Jackie Baillie in visiting Shieldinch, the set of River City, on a tour of their studios in Dumbarton. There we met the show’s newest stars Sanjeev Kohli (Navid from Still Game) and Dawn Steele (Lexie from Monarch of the Glen)

As Scottish Labour’s Democracy spokesperson I’ll be leading our response to the BBC’s Charter Renewal Process so it was great to see how important the studios are to the sector and the local economy.

Charter Renewal must be about securing the best deal for the licence fee payer and ensuring we have a have a sustainable BBC in Scotland, where skills are harnessed and quality programmes produced.

SCIAF Celebrates 50 years

This week SCIAF joined us in the Scottish Parliament to celebrate their 50th anniversary, hosting a well attended evening celebrating on Wednesday.

It was good to meet and discuss all the fantastic work they do throughout the world. I look forward to further conversations as we work together in my role as Democracy spokesperson for Scottish Labour.

Claire calls for stronger Scotland Bill

Today I led for Scottish Labour in a Parliamentary debate on the Scotland Bill and the issue of more powers for the Scottish Parliament. 

During the debate I called for the Bill to be strengthened to ensure that more powers come to the Scottish Parliament. Labour has laid amendments to the bill that would see the bill go beyond what was agreed in the Smith Commission and ensure that all VAT raised in Scotland would stay in Scotland.

I also called for full transparency in that discussions taking place between the Scottish and UK Government over the fiscal framework that will underpin the bill. We must ensure that we are getting a fair deal for Scotland.

We must offer refugees hope as well as a home

Yesterday I led a debate for the Scottish Labour Party on the ongoing refugee crisis. The debate was an opportunity to discuss Scotland’s response to the crisis and to push for more help for refugees both in Syria, its neighbouring countries and in Europe

Prior to the debate I called for the Scottish Government to increase the number of refugees to be accommodated in Scotland to be at least 2,000 and I was pleased that following a meeting of their refugee taskforce they committed to meeting these numbers.

Scotland has led the UK in our response to the refugee crisis and it is important that we continue to do so. That is why I called for the number of refuges to be welcomed in Scotland to be at least double the 1,000 originally announced.

I also moved an amendment – that was passed by Parliament – which looks to build on the work of the University of Glasgow in accommodating Syrian students and academics.

Studies have been disrupted, jobs and trades lost and carers halted by this crisis. We must look at how we rebuild the lives of refugees and help them to build a better future.

We must ensure that refugees that come to Scotland are given more than just a home, they must be given hope of a better future.

You can read my speech here.

Claire raises film studio at FMQs

During First Minister questions yesterday I raised the lack of progress on a film studio in Scotland. When I first came into the role as culture spokesperson for the party the Scottish Government were on the verge of announcing their plans. Nine months later I am still waiting but for the sector the wait has been much, much longer.

Their frustration at this lack of progress was clear to those who attended a Creative Industries conference in Edinburgh this week. I chaired a session in the morning of the conference that included the progress, priorities and next steps of Scotland’s screen industries and it was clear to me that the long wait for the studio is, according to many, beginning to hinder the growth of that sector.

Arabella Page Croft, a leading producer that can count the recent (and popular) Sunshine on Leith amongst her works, highlighted that 20 years ago Scotland was the biggest production cluster outside London. Now we are 6th behind Wales, Northern Ireland and regions of England. Continue reading

Havelock Europe job losses raised in Parliament

This week in the Scottish Parliament I raised the recently announced job losses at Havelock Europa. The Kirkcaldy based company have announced that they would be cutting their staff by 10% which would see the loss of 50 jobs.

The job losses are another major blow to Kirkcaldy and the wider Fife economy, coming on the back of significant losses at major employers such as Tullis Russell, BiFab and Tesco.

Following the closure of Tullis Russell the Scottish Government has been working with Fife Council and set up a taskforce to help retrain and find employment for workers who were laid off. Continue reading

Creative Industries debate and BBC Charter Renewal

On Thursday I questioned the First Minister during FMQ’s about the future of the BBC before going on to lead for the Scottish Labour Party in a debate on the Creative Industries in Scotland.

We know that the BBC is facing a very tough licence fee settlement and we need to balance being ambitious alongside maintaining quality. That is why I called for an open debate that is led by licence fee payers during FMQs.

During the debate I cautioned that I have yet to see evidence that the Scottish public are calling out for a Scottish-only channel and we must ask if such a move is an appropriate use of licence fee payers’ money considering the considerable cost of such a move.

I also raised my reservations about moving to a federal system within the BBC. Many will remember the controversy when STV didn’t show Downton Abbey when it first aired in the rest of the UK. If we move to a system of buying and selling shows within the BBC then we could find popular BBC programmes not being available in Scotland. Continue reading