The SNP is calling on Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont to reaffirm her party’s stance on free school meals and workers’ rights after a week that saw Labour councillors at odds with MSPs and MPs from their own party.
On Thursday, Labour councillors in Glasgow rejected fully-funded plans put forward by the council’s SNP group proposing to introduce free school meals early. The rejection came just one day after Labour in the Scottish Parliament voted for the Scottish Government’s introduction of free school meals for all P1 to P3 children.
Labour councillors also rejected an SNP motion calling on the council to stop using Tory workforce laws that make it easier to sack staff.
Glasgow Council – which is Labour controlled – has been among the first to use the new 45 day redundancy notices as a way of forcing workers to accept changes to their pay and conditions. This is despite the fact the party voted against the new laws in the House of Commons.
Commenting, SNP MSP Bob Doris, who urged Labour to support the SNP on free school meals during Wednesday’s debate in the Scottish Parliament, said:
“Johann Lamont must make clear where her party stands on free school meals and workers’ rights. In a week in which Labour voted for free school meals in the Scottish Parliament, Labour councillors in Glasgow chose not to back the SNP proposal to introduce the policy early.
“Our SNP councillors had done the hard work of finding the funding – all Labour had to do was support the motion and they failed to do that, denying families across Glasgow vital support at a time when Tory cuts are hitting the poorest hardest.”
Mr Doris highlighted the party’s stance in Westminster where Labour MPs had voted against the legislation that introduced controversial redundancy notices which halved the previous redundancy notice employers had to give from 90 days to 45 days.
In 2012, Speaking prior to the legislation coming into force, Labour’s Shadow employment relations minister Ian Murray attacked the proposal, saying: “David Cameron should be making it easier to hire, not easier to fire. We need a real plan for jobs and growth, not an attack on people’s rights at work.”
In 2013, Mr Murray called collective redundancies, “one of the most dramatic forms of job loss” and added: “I would urge those opposed to this proposals to join in unionstogether’s campaign against the tidal wave which is washing away people’s rights at work.”
However last week it emerged Glasgow Council had used the new rule following a dispute with care home staff. It followed a case in 2013 when the Labour run local authority employed the new rule against 1400 staff who worked in the council’s education department.
Mr Doris added: “That Glasgow council is among the first to use these controversial 45 day redundancy notices speaks volumes about the state the party is in. Any illusions there were about Labour being the party of the workers have been blown out of the water.
“Labour is a party in chaos. With MPs threatening to boycott conference and the party split down the middle on further powers, the party is now saying one thing in opposition and another thing in office. Their leader must take charge.”