May Day in Glasgow

by our Scottish news correspondent

AROUND 500 people braved the drizzle on Sunday to march from George Square to the O2 Academy in the Gorbals for Glasgow’s annual May Day rally organised by Glasgow Trades Union Council.

Banners from trades councils and unions RMT, Unison and Unite lead the march, while Labour Party and Communist Party of Britain banners were followed by those from nationalist Trotskyite sects, some of whom doled out semi-literate leaflets.

At the rally the Scottish National Party Trade Union Group had a stall with a banner emblazoned with the slogan: “A Voice for Scottish Workers” which they have adapted from UKIP’s claim to be the “Voice of British Workers”.

The rally was opened by two of the striking Homelessness Caseworkers in Glasgow who have who have been on indefinite strike since the end of March over a grading dispute. They are seeking to be upgraded to the same level as other social workers doing similar frontline work. The City Council has shown little interest in the matter, holding only one meeting in late April.

Next came a leading figure from the ranks of the British Establishment, Guardian journalist Seamus Milne (Winchester College and Balliol) who spoke next saying that Tory austerity policies which have brought about the longest fall in wages since the 1860s are indeed working, but only for the very rich.

He blamed the rise in parties such as the SNP and the Greens on the “left” and UKIP on the right on the Labour Party’s embrace of neo-liberalism.

From the Glasgow Girls, a group fighting for the rights of asylum seekers, Roza Salih deplored the detention of asylum seekers, even some who are pregnant. The international dimension came from Unison activist Stephen Smellie who reported on a recent trip to Kobane where the fight against Islamic State is being waged by Kurdish fighters, not the USA who verbally deplore the Islamists.

The struggle for a living wage for fast food workers was described by a video message from a Boston-based campaign. This campaign has been active on the streets of Glasgow against the same multinational corporations.

Gordon Maloney, National Union of Students Scottish president, concluded the rally by describing the “Living Rent Campaign” which calls for rent controls, saying that in the past year private rents in Glasgow have risen by nine per cent at a time when wage levels are stagnant. Rent controls and an end to subsidies for landlords need to be coupled with a massive rise in council house building.