Leah Ganley (Socialist Party Scotland and a GMB branch committee member from the Highlands) chaired the conference. Leah reminded the conference that TUSC had been established in 2010 by the then general secretary of the RMT Bob Crow and the Socialist Party among others. Since then TUSC has stood in hundreds of electoral contests, including for the Scottish parliament, Westminster and local council elections.
The first platform speaker was Jim McFarlane who is a member of the UNISON NEC and a branch secretary of Dundee City UNISON. Jim, who was speaking in a personal capacity, pointed out that in local government workers are facing attacks from both SNP and Labour councils. There was no difference in their consistent passing on off Tory austerity rather than standing up and setting legal no-cuts budgets. With Scottish councils facing a shortfall of £1 billion in funding arising from the Covid crisis and a decade of cuts, a 100% anti-austerity alternative was essential for the elections next year.
Michael Hogg, the Scottish regional secretary of the RMT and a former miner sacked in the 1984/85 miners strike spoke next. The recent announcement that miners sacked during the strike were to be pardoned in Scotland was an important victory, a result of decades of campaigning, explained Michael. He highlighted current struggles that the RMT are involved in like the Caledonian sleeper strike. Two 48-hour strikes have already taken place against Serco, with more planned in December and January. This is a consequence of privatisation and a refusal by the SNP-led Scottish government to fight for pro-working class policies. TUSC stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the working class, unlike Labour and the SNP, he commented.
David Semple, an NEC member of the Public and Commercial Services (PSC) union speaking in a personal capacity, highlighted the unprecedented crisis with Covid-19 and the economic catastrophe in its wake. Working-class people face rising unemployment and a growing environmental catastrophe, a result of capitalist governments refusing to act on climate change. PCS members like all workers are having to deal with bosses who are putting business and profit before workers health and safety. The need for a fighting socialist alternative was ever more urgent.
Lynda McEwan spoke on behalf of Socialist Party Scotland, who are founding members of Scottish TUSC. Lynda pointed out that there is a majority for independence just now, especially amongst young people and the working class, but there is no majority for the continued rule of the millionaires and billionaires who’s profits have skyrocketed during the pandemic. Tesco reported £500 million in profits in the last seven months. Wealth concentration across the globe is now at highest since 1905. There is no majority for food banks and poverty, for lack of affordable housing and austerity. That’s why we need to use the election campaign to fight for an independent socialist Scotland.
The final platform speaker was Gary Clark, branch secretary of the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) Scotland No.2 branch. Gary brought solidarity greetings from his branch of 3,000 postal workers. The branch committee had agreed to send a delegation in an official capacity to take party in the conference. CWU members have been at the forefront of the battle for health and safety during the pandemic. A socialist leadership for the trade union movement is vital at this time, in opposition to the drive for so-called “national unity” which has been following by some trade union leaders. Gary reminded the conference that the Scotland No,2 branch had a long history of supporting socialist candidates in elections.
There followed a wide-ranging and enthusiastic discussion that saw a range of contributions from young people, trade unionists and community campaigners from the Highlands, Glasgow, Ayrshire, West Dunbartonshire Lothian, Aberdeen and Dundee about the need for a socialist election challenge for the Scottish elections in May 2021.
The mood of the conference was summed up by one trade union organiser and former member of the SNP who described it as a brilliant and inspiring event, particularly the numbers of young people who had spoken.
Philip Stott from the Scottish TUSC steering committee moved the resolution which was being recommended by the steering committee. The resolution (below) committed Scottish TUSC to stand as widely as possible in the 2021 elections with a Scottish TUSC conference planned for early February to finalise a manifesto and candidates. It was agreed unanimously.
The conference agreed on the following resolution unanimously
This conference agrees that the Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) will stand candidates as widely as is possible in the May 2021 Scottish parliament elections.
Conference agrees that the need for a 100% pro-trade union, socialist and anti-austerity electoral alternative to the parties of cuts and capitalism makes such an electoral challenge essential.
Scottish TUSC will contact trade unionists and their organisations, anti-cuts campaigners and socialist groups and organisations to seek as large a number of candidates as possible for next May.
We ask Scottish TUSC supporters and those who wish to stand to begin discussions from now as to possible constituencies/regional lists to contest and candidates prepared to stand.
We agree to hold a Scottish TUSC conference in February to finalise a manifesto/candidates etc for the election.
The core policies of Scottish TUSC are:
- Opposition to all cuts to jobs, public services, benefits and workers’ terms and conditions
- Working class people must not pay for the Covid crisis
- End all anti-union laws
- Public ownership not privatisation
- Build a mass trade union, working class-led campaign for the right to a second indyref
- For united working class struggle against racism and all forms of oppression
- For an independent socialist Scotland
- Socialist change to prevent climate catastrophe
Contact Scottish TUSC for more info via a message to the Facebook page or email@example.com