Friday, 28 November 2014
Friday, 21 November 2014
Industrial action by lecturers at the Kilwinning campus of Ayrshire College looks set to escalate after management suspended a union branch secretary following last Tuesday’s strike action.
Lecturers picketed the college (November 18) as part of official strike action following a decision by bosses to impose new working arrangements without consultation. The EIS (Educational Institute for Scotland) had earlier balloted lecturers, receiving 86% support for strike action in opposition to the changes.
A further strike was already planned for Thursday (November 27), but management’s suspension of the trade union rep is being seen as an inflammatory act likely to make more difficult any attempt to resolve the dispute.
A lecturer at the Kilwinning campus told the3towns.today that union members have passed a motion of no confidence in Ayrshire college principal Heather Dunk. The lecturer added, “Management have not consulted on the changes to timetables and working arrangements, they simply imposed them and threatened staff with disciplinary action if they did not comply. That is no way to conduct business.”
Industrial action is set to escalate to two-day strikes in the first two weeks of December, with three-day strikes possible in January if no agreement is reached. EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, “Our members are determined to take the necessary steps to protect their contractual rights.”
Thursday, 20 November 2014
Sunday, 9 November 2014
The campaign by local MP Katy Clark to become Deputy Leader of the Labour Party in Scotland received good and bad news when nominations closed last week.
With candidates requiring at least 10 nominations from fellow Labour parliamentarians in order to stand, the closing figures showed Ms Clark just made the cut with 11 nominations, including one from herself. The only other contender for the deputy leadership, Kezia Dugdale MSP, received 54 nominations.
However, Katy Clark secured the backing of 7 trade unions, including UNISON, Unite and the GMB, while none have declared for Ms Dugdale.
The outcome of the internal Labour Party vote will be decided by an ‘electoral college’ where parliamentarians, trade unions and members each have a third of the votes. In some cases, for example where a member is also a trade unionist, individuals will have more than one vote.
The MP for North Ayrshire & Arran is clearly seen as the candidate of the left, arguing for a return to traditional Labour values. Last week Ms Clark told the3towns.today, “We must recognise that Scottish politics has changed and it can't be business as usual. The vast majority of people want a secure job, a decent home and access to good quality public services. This is prevented for too many by wealth being held in the hands of a minority. It is unacceptable in the 21st century that people have to queue at a foodbank to feed their children. These are the issues I will be addressing throughout the campaign.”
In the contest for Leader of the Labour Party in Scotland, Katy Clark has given her backing to fellow left-winger Neil Findlay MSP. However, Mr Findlay also emerged well behind his right-wing opponent, Jim Murphy MP, when nominations closed last week. Murphy received 43 nominations to Findlay’s 12, with centre-ground candidate Sarah Boyack on 10. Like Katy Clark, Mr Findlay is backed by 7 trade unions.
The outcome of the votes for ‘Scottish’ Labour Leader and Deputy Leader will be announced on December 13th.
North Ayrshire Schools Concert Band hit the right note last week when it won the prestigious Platinum Award at the annual National Concert Band Festival.
Victory at the Scottish competition, held at the City of Edinburgh Music School, means the young North Ayrshire musicians now go forward to the UK final in April 2015 at the Royal College of Music in Manchester.
Commenting on the success of the band, whose members are drawn from schools across North Ayrshire, the local Council’s SNP Cabinet Member for Community and Culture, Cllr Alan Hill, said, “North Ayrshire Schools Concert Band once again received recognition for their hard work and commitment to musical excellence. I congratulate them for winning the Platinum Award. Their skill and professionalism shone and the award is well-deserved.”
Adding her congratulations, Mae Murray, Music Service Co-ordinator with North Ayrshire Council, said, “All band members have worked incredibly hard and this is a fantastic result for everyone.”
Matthew Chinn, the Band’s Musical Director is from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Mr Chinn noted, “I was delighted by the performance from all involved in the North Ayrshire Schools Band at the competition in Edinburgh. I always very much welcome the opportunity to work with the aspiring young musicians from across North Ayrshire.
“The Platinum Award is testament to the great work and commitment shown by all of the young musicians, the North Ayrshire Instrumental Music Service and its professional instructors and teachers.”
[Photo: North Ayrshire’s young musicians celebrate winning the Platinum Award at the National Concert Band Festival]
People living with cancer in North Ayrshire can now get quick and easy access to information and support while out shopping.
A new drop-in service opened last week at the Boots store in Irvine’s Rivergate Mall. The facility, which is staffed by highly-trained volunteers, is being operated in a partnership between NHS Ayrshire & Arran, Macmillan Cancer Support and Boots UK. On offer is advice on emotional and practical issues, access to information materials on various types of cancer and treatment, or simply a listening ear.
In addition to specialist cancer information and emotional support, the service can refer people to other services, including benefits advice, complimentary therapies and counselling.
Opening the drop-in centre, John Burns, Chief Executive of NHS Ayrshire & Arran, said, “This is a great example of partnership-working in action. The service offers anyone affected by cancer access to good quality information and support, and welcomes visitors with a friendly smile and a listening ear. The fact it is in a shopping centre makes it even easier for people to get the support they need.”
Sandra White, Nurse Consultant in Cancer with NHS Ayrshire & Arran added, “I would like to thank Macmillan Cancer Support and Boots UK for their support in putting this service into practice, but we couldn't run the service without our volunteers who offer firsthand experience of living with cancer - from first diagnosis to after treatment.
“The service isn't just for people who have had a cancer diagnosis. Families and friends can often feel lost and confused, and not know who to turn to. The support service is on hand to help them too.”
Elspeth Atkinson, Director of Macmillan, noted, “A cancer diagnosis brings with it all kinds of questions and uncertainty for patients, their families and friends. Being able to access information and emotional support at this stressful time is vital and we know from the success of the Macmillan Information and Support services in Saltcoats and Cumnock Libraries that people appreciate local easily accessible services.
“Improving access and connecting people to Macmillan information and support in the Boots store will help us achieve our joint ambition to improve the lives of everyone affected by cancer and help build a legacy in the local community.”
The drop in service is available on Wednesdays from 10.00am until 12-noon and Fridays from 11.00am until 2.30pm.
Saturday, 1 November 2014
Local MP Katy Clark has confirmed she will run for the deputy leadership of the Labour Party in Scotland.
Yesterday (October 31) the3towns.today reported speculation on a pro-Labour Party website, Labour Hame, suggesting Ms Clark was considering putting her name in the hat to replace the current deputy leader of ‘Scottish’ Labour, Anas Sarwar MP. At the time, the North Ayrshire & Arran MP had made no public comment on the subject.
However, this morning (November 1), Katy Clark said, “I have submitted a declaration to the Scottish Labour Party that I intend to stand for deputy leader and will be seeking nominations from colleagues over the weekend.”
Ms Clark praised outgoing leader Johann Lamont and Mr Sarwar, but added, “This is not about individuals. We must recognise that Scottish politics has changed and it can't be business as usual. The vast majority of people want a secure job, a decent home and access to good quality public services. This is prevented for too many by wealth being held in the hands of a minority. It is unacceptable in the 21st century that people have to queue at a foodbank to feed their children. These are the issues I will be addressing throughout the campaign.”
Vacancies for leader and deputy leader of the Scottish party were created when Johann Lamont MSP announced her resignation last week.
In an interview with the Daily Record newspaper, Johann Lamont was scathing in her criticism of Ed Miliband and the Labour Party leadership in London, saying they are “dinosaurs” who fail to see “Scotland has changed forever”. Ms Lamont also accused the London-based leadership of treating Scotland like a “branch office”.
To compound a bad week for Labour, new opinion polls showed support for the party collapsing in Scotland, while increasing numbers of people are backing the SNP. One of the polls, conducted by IPSOS-MORI, had the SNP on 52% with Labour down to 23%. If those figures were translated into actual votes at next year’s UK General Election, Labour would lose all but four of its seats in Scotland to the SNP – including North Ayrshire & Arran, which is currently represented by Katy Clark.