A series of amendments to emergency coronavirus legislation, bolstering workers’ and tenants’ rights, has been defeated in the Scottish Parliament by and alliance of Conservative and SNP MSPs among others. Labour MSP Neil Findlay is disgusted by the hypocrisy of politicians who will applaud care workers, but wont vote for their right to self-organise in their own defense.
Hypocrisy is nothing new in politics but this week in the Scottish Parliament it was there for everyone to see in all it’s nauseating glory.
The event was stage 2 of the second Covid emergency legislation which was going through its ‘committee stage’. Labour and Green members brought forward a series of progressive amendments to support tenants, provide relief for debtors, establish a support fund for social care workers, ensure that all workers working on tax payer funded contracts receive the living wage, and giving unions access to companies who work on tax payer contracts.
All of these were opposed by the SNP government and voted down by their committee representatives in what was very clearly a prearranged deal with the two Tories, ultra Thatcherite Murdo Fraser and Adam Tompkins. So much for the SNP being a party of the left or a progressive party that supports trade unions. Indeed, there was complete radio silence from the SNP trade union group and not a word from their parliamentary TU group chair Tom Arthur. But it was opposition to my amendment seeking to introduce collective bargaining in the social care sector that really boiled my piss. Every week we see politicians taking videos of themselves out clapping those ‘jolly brave and courageous heroic key workers’ who have kept the country going throughout the lockdown.
You know who they are? They are the shop workers, bus drivers, council staff and NHS workers and they are the cleaners, laundry workers, cooks, carers, drivers and support staff in our care homes. The people on poverty pay, the ones who only get statutory sick pay when self isolating, who can’t get access to PPE or tested for this deadly disease.
The people who have no trade union and are scared to raise their concerns with their bosses. The people who care for our mums and dads and who will care for us in our old age. These are some of the most exploited workers in the country employed by companies like HC One, who own the Skye care home that has been in the headlines and over 50 more homes in Scotland – a company that hasn’t paid Corporation tax since 2011 but can pay out £48 million in dividends to share holders.
Collective bargaining and representation from a union could have transformed the lives of these workers, giving them fair pay, a safe working environment and a voice at work and it could have made a huge impact on the quality of care provided. Thanks to the a grubby alliance between the SNP and Tories who sided with the HC Ones of this world, my proposal was defeated but you can bet your life that the MSPs who voted down my amendment – Mike Russell, Stewart Stevenson, Willie Coffey, Annabelle Ewing, Murdo Fraser and Adam Tompkins will be out on their doorsteps clapping those very same ‘heroes’ on Thursday night. Now that is real hypocrisy.