21/08/2013

Harris Academy

At Monday evening's Education Committee I was pleased to see a report which outlined some progress towards actually building the new Harris Academy.  I want to see this happen sooner rather than later.

At the meeting I was concerned to hear concerns expressed by the EIS representative on the Education Committee Mr Arthur Forrest about health and safety issues at the Rockwell site where Harris Academy is temporarily based.


I was very concerned to hear what the EIS representative Mr Forrest said about Harris Academy.  I have seen the work which went on to try and get the Rockwell site ready for Harris moving in, and there were always going to be teething difficulties.  My main concern though is that for the next three years while Harris Academy is at Rockwell that everything is done to make sure that the young people have the best educational experience possible, this cannot be done at the expense of health and safety.  The concerns raised by the EIS need to examined in detail and remedial action taken where necessary.  I have asked that the Director of Education keep me updated on progress with this important matter.  I hope for a swift and amicable resolution to this.

20/08/2013

Council takes stand against Blacklisting

On Monday evening at the City Council's Policy and Resources Committee on behalf of the Labour Group I put forward my motion against Blacklisting.  I was very pleased that there was unanimous support for the proposals which I put forward.  There was a deputation from the Unite trade union, which highlighted their concerns about blacklisting.  My colleague Brian Gordon seconded my motion and spoke on the history of blacklisting in Dundee.  I was also pleased to see the Dundee Trades Council lobbying

Dundee Trades Council Leaflet
 
councillors as they came into the council in favour of my motion.

I am delighted that the council spoke with one voice on this important issue.  I will be asking council officers to keep me up to date about progress on tackling this human rights abuse.  Unite held a protest outside the Scottish Parliament over Blacklisting recently please look at their video of the event which is above.

My speech condemning blacklisting can be seen below:


I am pleased to move the motion in my name on the papers in front of us

 

I believe that we should take a stance against blacklisting for a whole variety of reasons but mostly I want us to say that we are opposed to blacklisting and that we should try to prevent blacklisters from benefiting from public sector contracts because that is the fair thing to say.

 

The council has major financial clout in the city, we are one of the biggest employers in the city, and we are one of the biggest developers in the city.  I don’t think that is a bad thing, but I do think that we should ensure that the City Council uses its financial clout to benefit the citizens of Dundee.  That’s why we agree that we should be promoting local jobs and apprenticeship schemes for example.

 

 

 

There is growing evidence of the widespread nature of blacklisting; various trade unions have given evidence of this in recent times.  The Scottish Affairs Select Committee in the House of Commons has done an excellent job of exposing this unfair practice.  I want to pay tribute to their work, especially the work of my MP Jim McGovern.

 

Blacklisting is generally accepted to involve the termination of workers employment for issues not related to performance, including:

 

·       Raising legitimate health and safety concerns;

·       Being a member of a trade union;

·       Being or having previously been an active trade union representative;

·       Having worked at sites where some form if industrial action took place;

·       Belonging to political parties whose ideas employers do not share; and

·       The clandestine sharing of such workers names in order to deny access to future employment.

 

The question we have to ask ourselves tonight is this, is it fair that someone should lose their livelihood because of their trade union activity or because they have a concern for health and safety.  Also if a company does indulge in these unfair and illegal practices should the public sector offer them any succour.  Should we allow council tax payers money to be used to blacklist anyone?

 

I return to my original point this is about fairness.  If we take a stand against the unfair practice of blacklisting then a strong message is going out from this council which will be added to the many similar calls being made up and down the country at this time.

 

I hope that we will speak with one voice this evening against blacklisting and I move the motion.