Trade union special edition of the Scottish Left Review

The latest edition of the Scottish Left Review is a trade union special. In it

Steve’s article is very much in tune with the motion our branch submitted to the Unite national policy conference.

Lynn’s article speaks about the influence of the American organiser Jane McAlevey. If you would like to borrow her excellent book Raising Expectations and Raising Hell get in touch.

This issue of the SLR shows how unions are offering alternatives to austerity, responding to modern technology and Tory legislation and helping protect and empower workers throughout these challenging times.

New edition of the Scottish Left Review

The 101st edition of Scottish Left Review (SLR) was recently published and you can read it online. Inside there are interesting articles on

  • Scottish economic reform and worker-owned business by Richard Leonard MSP, Unite’s favoured candidate for the Scottish Labour leadership
  • the opportunities for Britain to enshrine worker rights and forge new European alliances with Brexit by Neil Findlay MSP
  • how to organise effectively in the face of the Trade Union Act 2016 by UNISON’s Stephen Smellie.

Read these articles and more in latest SLR.

Magazine and book borrowing

If you prefer a paper copy of the SLR, get in touch to see if we have one to borrow. There are a number of magazines to which members have subscriptions that they are happy to share with Unite comrades.

Other magazines to borrow include Socialist Review and Strike! There are also a range of books that may be of interest, including

  • Nick Srnicek and Alex William’s excellent manifesto for a post-work world and analysis of the rise of neo-liberal capitalism Post-Capitalism and a World Without Work
  • Jane McAlevey’s account of her decade as a trade union organiser, Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell)
  • Razmig Keucheyan’s essential overview of modern anti-capitalist thought The Left Hemisphere. 

To find out what else is available – or to lend your own to the branch lending library – contact Graeme Smith. For more learning opportunities, contact our Learning Rep Amanda Cunningham.

UNISON pay offer action scuppered by Trade Union Act 2016

UNISON Scotland’s ballot for industrial action in the face of the COSLA pay offer dispute has been defeated, as the turnout was below the 50% threshold required by the Trade Union Act 2016. On 1 June, UNISON revealed that 22.8% of members voted with 62.7% voting in favour of industrial action.

Read about the UNISON ballot.

Back in April, Unite members overwhelming voted to accept the COSLA pay offer, with 82% voting to accept and 17% to reject. GMB also accepted, with 69% voting for the deal. UNISON, following a national campaign encouraging members to reject the offer, voted 77.6% to reject with only 22.4% voting to accept.

COSLA pay offer

1% pay rise for those earning over £35K or £350 rise for those earning under. For a worker earning £16K £350 is the equivalent of a pay rise of 2.19%.

The initial offer was 1% for those earning over £25K and £250 for those earning under, but this was increase following negotiations with trade unions.

This maximum pay increase of 2.19% for our lowest paid workers is in the face of


Had it all been four months’ earlier, there would have been the possibility of a strike. Already, we are seeing the effects of the Tories’ Trade Union Act. The 50% threshold is an attack on trade unions and the ability of workers to deny their labour.

We have to bear in mind that this rule was imposed on workers by a government that routinely allows turnouts below 30% to elect regional police commissioners in England and Wales. In the May 2016 England and Wales police and crime commissioner elections, only 7 of the 40 regions saw turnouts of over 30%. None had a turnout of over 50%. The same elections back in 2012 saw a historically low turnout of 15%. This election system was introduced by Theresa May, as home secretary, who said that despite the turnout the result was the ‘voice of the people’.

`This episode shows us that union advice weighs heavily on members’ decisions: Unite’s ballot letter recommended accept, while UNISON campaigned for reject. The overwhelming decisions in both cases are evidence that members respect the analysis of their unions when it comes to pay.