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Community members speak up at STUC congress

23rd April 2018

Three Community reps were among the speakers at the Scottish Trades Union Congress in Aviemore last week. They were speaking in support of the motions that Community had put forward to the annual Congress, which brings together trade unionists from across Scotland to discuss their policy and campaigning priorities for the year ahead.

Angela Carrigan, President of Community’s Liberty Dalzell branch, moved the motion calling for more action to support Scotland’s steel industry. She told delegates about the campaign led by Community to save the steelworks and how new life had been brought to works through investment by Liberty House, the new owners.

“The Dalzell Steelworks were reopened under the ownership of Liberty House,” Angela told Congress.

“I am proud to say that steel now rolls in Motherwell once again. But more than that, people got their jobs back, their livelihoods back. And our story gave steel communities across this country real hope. That moment made me hopeful for the future of Scottish steel, I still am hopeful but once again our jobs are at risk and our futures uncertain. Our fight is far from over.

“It’s simple, here in Scotland we need a proper industrial strategy if industries like steel are going to prosper in this ever changing world. Only then will our jobs be secure, our communities thriving and our steelworks, booming.”

The motion was supported unanimously.

Audrey McJimpsey moved the motion by Community calling for more support for victims of sexual assault. Audrey, who works at RSBi, explained how there is just one NHS sexual assault referral centre in Scotland and described the length of time victims have to wait to access the services.

“Last year almost eleven thousand sexual crimes were reported in Scotland. That marks a five percent increase and is a record high. More than nine hundred of these crimes were committed against children under 13.

“In some places, victims wait days to be examined. In some instances victims have been forced to wait more than a year to access services. Some areas have no pediatric services, meaning long journeys for young and vulnerable children.

“And when we look at the non-NHS services the picture is just as bleak. The demand is so high, and the supply of services so low that some Rape and Sexual Assault Centers like the one in Fife have been forced to shut their waiting lists.

Audrey called for more immediate investment saying “More NHS-specialist centers must be created. Waiting lists must be reduced. More specialist women doctors must be trained.”

“A properly funded system that provides well resourced, local and specialist services is the first step in supporting victims of sexual assault.”

The motion was fully supported by delegates.

Finally, Stephen McGregor, called for more action on mental health. Securing STUC support will help achieve the aims of Community’s current priority campaign on mental health.

“For many of us, work is a major part of our lives. It’s where we spend the majority of our time. Where we get our income. And often where we make our friends. It is also inevitably a setting where we experience problems; one of those problems can be mental health conditions. More people are in work with a mental health condition than ever before, and that’s across all workplaces and all ages. But without the necessary help and support, many of these workers are struggling, and as a consequence are off sick, less productive or leaving employers.

“In any one year, over one in four people in the general population and one in six workers are likely to be suffering from a mental health condition. With over 31 million people in work in the UK, this is equivalent to over five million workers suffering from a mental health condition. But due to stigma, lack of knowledge, training and support on how to support friends and colleagues in the workplace, those millions of workers are being left to deal with their mental health issues alone and in silence.

He went on to call for more government action, saying “We need the Scottish Government’s Mental Health Strategy to transform the way we deal with mental health in this country and we do that by working with them. To tackle poor mental health, to make mental health a priority in every workplace, to ensure no worker is left to suffer in silence.”

The STUC implements the actions called for in the motions over the coming year.