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Inverclyde to receive over £4M extra funding from Scottish Government

Inverclyde to receive over £4M extra funding from Scottish Government
The Leader of the SNP Council Group in Inverclyde has today welcomed news that Inverclyde Council is to receive an additional £4.45M on top of its budget that was previously announced by the Scottish Government at the end of last year. 
The extra money which will help provide support for growth in Social Care Spend as well as supporting the paying of the living wage and other cost pressures was welcomed by SNP Leader Cllr Chris McEleny. 
Commenting the SNP man said: 
” Over the past couple of months we have read and heard a lot about Inverclyde’s budget. Locally the SNP have decided to wait until we got clarity on the whole offer from the Scottish Government. Whereas others have protested before even knowing what the final settlement looked like we have continued to engage and talk at a national level.
” We have a Tory Government in London passing on draconian cuts to the Scottish Government. Labour’s answer to this locally has been to talk about raising hard working families taxes to pay for Tory cuts. Paying more tax to get better public services is a noble arguement. What happens next year when the Tory’s cut our budget again? Will Labour increase taxes every year to pay for Tory austerity imposed on Scotland?
” We have a government in Scotland who are prioritising spending on vital services that people in Inverclyde depend on. There is no doubt that these are challenging times. However with over £4M extra coming to Inverclyde to help drive up the wages of some of the lowest paid workers in the area we must welcome this.” 

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Happy New Year

As new year approaches many will reflect on 2015. 
Many would think that the highlight of the year was electing 56 SNP MPs to fight Scotland’s corner. Sadly though we ended up with a Tory Government despite the majority of us not voting for one. 
The previous year we warned of what continued Westminster governance would bring – more austerity, more attacks on workers rights, more cuts. However from the darkness Inverclyde was responsible for my highlight of the year. In the face of Europe’s greatest humanitarian crisis in decades we stood up against the political opposition and were among the first areas in Britain to give a new home to refugees from the war torn Syrian conflict. 
Next year again we will be faced with unprecedented challenges to our public services in Inverclyde. We must remember that our public services exist so that everyone in society can benefit from them regardless of wealth. We must be prepared to fight to ensure they are protected for the people that need them now and for the generations to come. Some will argue that services must go however our collective strength will prevail.
2015 was also a year that as individuals we will have had many personal triumphs, disappointments, moments of joy and times of sadness. 
Many of these events we can have no control over. 
However as you consider what your annual New Years resolutions will be remember the things in your life you do have influence over: 
Forgiveness and reconciliation. For there can be no better resolution than to offer these to those in our lives that need them. 
I wish you a happy new year. 
Cllr Christopher McEleny 

Leader of The SNP

Inverclyde Council

Refugee Crisis – Inverclyde should offer support 

A letter to the Leader of Inverclyde Council 

You will be aware of the current refugee crisis in Europe. This is in my opinion the biggest crisis Europe has faced in a generation and we cannot just sit by and watch the horrific scenes unfold if we have the power to do good no matter what scale that is on. 

You may also be aware of the announcement at First Minister’s Questions that Nicola Sturgeon will tomorrow (Friday) host a round table with organisations including the Scottish Refugee Council to discuss what further action the Scottish Government can take to support those refugees seeking safety in Europe.

You no doubt as I have, will have been contacted by many concerned constituents who desire that we as a council do whatever is within our means of possibility to support those in need. I believe that as a council that as Leader of our Council should contact the Scottish Government to inform them that we are happy to assist if there are any opportunities for us to do so. Of course we could bring a motion to the council – which would take weeks – and debate the situation. However I feel that anyone who can help, regardless of how much, irrelevant of how far away we are, must do so now. 

Once contact has been made with the Scottish Government they will hopefully be in a position to coordinate any support people in Inverclyde wish to make and any assistance we as a council can give. We simply cannot let this situation continue. 

I look forward to your response. 

Yours Sincerely 

Cllr Christopher McEleny 

SNP Group Leader 

Inverclyde Council 

 

Unite the Union Political fund. Time to opt out. 

Unite the Union political fund: 

For nearly 2 years now I have been pressing Unite to allow members the opportunity to contribute to our unions political fund but have the option to have none of our money given to the Scottish Labour Party. 

Today Labour announce they will support the Tory welfare cuts and cuts to child tax credits. This is a party that no trade unionist can support. 

Therefore time is now up for Unite. As they have failed to allow members to contribute to a campaigning political fund without having to contribute to a Labour Party who stand against our trade union values the union have forced us into this position. 

I will be opting out the political fund tomorrow. See below details if you wish to do so to.

Calmac Ferries statement 

My opinion on the ongoing Calmac Ferries potential privatisation and industrial reaction……written on my phone so apologies for the grammar, it’s normally good 👀

SNP Council leader calls meeting of Clyde Ferry Users Group to discuss ongoing Calmac job concerns 

The Leader of the SNP in Inverclyde and chair of the Clyde Ferry users group has today called a meeting of the group to discuss ongoing concerns over locally based CalMac ferries. 
Cllr Christopher McEleny who’s Gourock constituency is home to the Headquarters of the company will chair a meeting of the group in July. The local SNP Leader who has  spoken to staff who are impacted by industrial action and the ongoing tendering process of the CHFS ( Clyde and Hebrides Ferry service) also stated that workers terms and conditions must be protected regardless of the outcome. 
Commenting Cllr McEleny said: 
” there are 2 issues at hand. Firstly there must be the recognition that Cal Mac staff have an absolute right to take strike action over concerns that their terms and conditions will be eroded with a potential privatisation of the contract. It might be easy for people to look in from the outside and not understand the reasons behind the action as staff have better terms and conditions than they do. However we must reject this view. I have an unwavering view that terms & conditions should never be eroded in the workplace and only when we all support the end to this race to the bottom can we push for everyone’s working standards to be raised. Therefore I do welcome the transport minister Derek Mackay’s pledge that the Scottish Government will ensure that pensions of the CHFS workforce are protected. ” 
The Local SNP leader added that the current tendering process should be used as an opportunity but also criticised EU laws that required the process. Commenting McEleny said: 
” this process must be used to improve and strengthen the working conditions of all working on the Clyde and Hebrides ferry service. Furthermore every effort should be made to ensure that the workforce is at the forefront of decision making while this process is ongoing. 
” However the EU laws that have necessitated the current tendering process are completely flawed and don’t take into account the vital lifeline services that CalMac who are based here in Inverclyde carry out for communities that depend upon them across the Clyde and Hebrides routes. I will be making representations to my SNP MEP colleagues to campaign at the heart of Europe for a rethink of this regressive procurement policy which is damaging to both the workforce based here in Inverclyde and the communities across Scotland that rely on such services to survive. ” 
Finally Cllr McEleny who chairs the important Clyde Ferry Users Group spoke of the role the group has to play in highlighting concerns. Cllr McEleny added: 
” The second aspect of this situation is the threat of privatisation itself. I have requested a meeting of the Clyde ferry users group so that we can scrutinise the impact the potential privatisation will have on the service which is to be provided. This meeting will allow all relevant stake holders to get around the table to ensure the CHFS is fit for purpose.”

Holyrood 2016 – Greenock & Inverclyde 

Holyrood 2016 – Greenock & Inverclyde 

Just a short message to confirm I am not seeking the nomination of SNP members to be the candidate in the above constituency. 
It would of course be a great honour to represent the area I live in at our countries parliament and I thank everyone who has approached me to ask me to consider it. I am sure there will be plenty of like minded SNP MSPs elected in constituencies across Scotland next year to help progress our shared belief in a progressive politics of social justice, fairness and equality for all. 
Good luck to all candidates that emerge and I look forward to a good debate amongst party members. 

Zero Hours contracts – a short practical solution to stop exploitation 

Zero hours contracts are very much in the centre of the current general election campaign. The very thought of a zero hours contract is now something society frowns upon, they are very much now a taboo. However to be balanced it’s worth noting that zero hours contracts were an integral part of change initiatives across the country in the private sector since 2008. 

Of course the fact that people on a zero hours contract are less likely to be trade union members than those on “normal” permanent employment contracts is an arguement for another day. There is though a clear link between change iniatives implementing zero hours contracts in workplaces to weaken collective bargaining agreements. 

From the employers point of view there are clear benefits – note this is not an endorsement. An employer can have an employee work hours that suit the business and this means when there is a lack of demand on workload the employer can simply reduce the employees hours. This example is where exploitation does occur and legislation is required. 

From the employees point of view should there be a blanket ban on “low hour” contracts if they actually suit the employee? Students, people working second jobs in bars etc may be happy with an agreement to only work a minimal amount of hours in a week. An absolute real example is your local social club that may have a function one week and need an extra member of staff but the next week there’s not a requirement. 

The key to the debate is indeed the term exploitative. By legislating to prevent exploitation we can be left with flexible working that suits both an employer and the employee. 

How do we do that of course is the vagueness around the current debate. It’s the reason we only hear sound bites and no actual ideas.

It’s a debate not too dissimilar to the treatment temporary workers endured before tougher regulation was brought in and in fact many still have to put up with today.

I believe the answer lies by looking at the EU working time regulations and legislation on temporary workers. The solution is already there. 

If I use my own example I can better explain the solution. Believe it or not but once upon a time I was young and worked pushing trollies for a supermarket chain sadly no longer with us. I was on a 4 hour contract but that is basically as good as a zero hour contract. As you would expect I would normally work 16 to 24 hours a week. However during exams I could say I only wanted to work 4 hours that week. That suited me but of course it didn’t pay as much. Also despite working an average of 16-24 hours a week annual leave and sick absence would be calculated on me only working 4 hours a week. Therefore by looking to the working time regulations if we could put in place protection for employees that if they were on leave their pay entitlement should be based on the average of hours worked over a 16 week period. Therefore no picking up 20 hours of pay every week but getting none when you take a weeks leave if you are on a zero hours contract.

Furthermore protection needs to be put in place to ensure zero hours contracts are not bypassing laws on temporary workers. I believe that if an employee works a consistent number of hours every week over a 16 week period then they should be entitled to a contract that reflects how many hours they work. Without this protection of course the employer wouldn’t need to pay annual leave and more than likely avoids redundancy payments employees could potentially be entitled to.

However it must be accepted that flexibly is a requirement of employers will want in certain situations. To mandate that employers must offer a certain fixed minimum hourly contract is a one size fits all approach that simply won’t fit. So I think I’ve provided a simple solution that will protect employees – which I’m sure many have already thought of – but there still needs to be a lot of work put into how the small business sector can sustain this.