It’s been a hectic week for Solidarity in the Scottish parliamentary election campaign. Solidarity held a well-attended fringe meeting at last week’s Scottish TUC conference in Glasgow.
There is a tradition of political factory gate meetings on Clydeside that was begun by the anti-war socialists in 1914. Solidarity has brought that tradition back to life.
Tommy Sheridan, Solidarity MSP, addressed workers last week at Citypark, a huge collection of call centres in the east end of Glasgow.
The mainly young and ethnically diverse workforce gave him a great reception as he spoke on the loudspeaker at lunchtime. They asked questions about the council tax, public transport and independence.
One young worker remarked, “Thanks for coming down. It’s really great to see Tommy come to your work to discuss things.”
Julie, who has worked in Centre One for 30 years said, “Tommy is always for the working class. He is a man of the people.”
Nineteen year old Michael, a temp worker, said, “There are more agency staff than permanent staff in here.
“Wages for temp staff are £6 an hour and workers have poor conditions. Tommy has been a good MSP and councillor.”
Early next morning Tommy was at BAE System’s Govan shipyard where he spoke at the main gate as the day shift was going into the yard.
Solidarity supporters distributed over 1,000 election leaflets advertising a city centre rally with Tommy and Respect MP George Galloway this week.
Tommy concentrated on Solidarity’s anti-war, anti-Trident nuclear weapon system and anti-poverty message. BAE Govan relies on military orders yet Tommy was well received. A number of workers stopped to wish him well and shake hands.
One young apprentice said, “Tommy is the only politician that has taken the time to come here and do this. Good luck to him, I hope he gets re-elected, he certainly deserves it.”
Later that day Solidarity held a meeting outside the National Savings & Insurance bank processing headquarters at Cowglen.
Sean said, “We’ve been working here five weeks with Adecco as temporary agency staff for £6 per hour.
Tommy told them, “It’s very important as young workers that you join a trade union to protect your wages and conditions, and to stop management pushing you around.”
The young workers were keen to raise other issues. Paul from Renfrew said, “Getting buses here is a huge problem. Leaving work at 5.30pm you can wait for 45 minutes, which happens a lot.” Mark said, “The council tax is a big issue for me.”
Solidarity’s party political broadcast went out last Friday evening and got a good response.
Typical of the calls we received was the first one from a woman from Fife, who said she had voted Labour all her life but “couldn’t bring herself to vote for this lot”. She had been going to vote Lib Dem as a protest until she heard Tommy speak.
For more information or to get involved go to www.solidarityscotland.org