Labour MSP calls for Scottish Parliament to go on strike

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By G.A.Ponsonby

A Labour MSP has caused controversy after demanding the Scottish Parliament join a national strike to be held on 30th of November.

Paul Martin said that all MSPs should “join the labour movement” and refuse to attend parliamentary business that day.  If they did then they would miss a scheduled motion condemning the UK government’s plans.

MSPs from other parties sat bemused and perplexed as Mr Martin, the MSP for Springburn, said: “I would ask on behalf of the Scottish Labour party all trade Unionists in this parliament to join the labour movement in this day of action indeed show your solidarity, stand up for the working people of Scotland by opposing the business motion in the name of the government.”

A national day of action is planned after the UK coalition announced changes to pension contributions.  Mr Martin claimed that the SNP were ‘bystanders’ on the Tory/Lib Dem coalition plans and were responsible for implementing some of the changes.

However John Swinney blasted the Labour MSP and explained that the SNP had urged a delay.  The Finance Secretary explained that he faced a significant cut in the Scottish budget if the Scottish government refused the coalition demands.

The SNP government had asked for a deferral in implementing the changes until the economic conditions improved.  However the changes were forced through after Lib Dem Treasury Chief Danny Alexander warned that any refusal would see the Scottish budget cut.

Bruce Crawford, the SNP minister for parliamentary business, said that MSPs should attend Holyrood on the 30th to debate a Scottish government motion condemning the pension plans.

Mr Crawford said that MSPs had a duty to carry out their duties and added:

“We are afforded the privilege of being elected to this parliament to represent the people of Scotland; that is exactly what we should be doing.

“It is our responsibility, nay, it is our duty to be in parliament on the 30th of November debating issues of such significant importance to the people of Scotland.”

The SNP MSP described the coalition changes as a “naked cash grab” and added:

“This government fully respects the rights of employees who might choose to withdraw their labour, with regards to the day of action planned for 30 November.

“Let me also make it clear the Scottish government is committed to a public sector pension which is affordable, sustainable and fair.”

Mr Martin’s demand for a parliamentary strike was defeated by 83 votes to 36, with one abstention.  However Labour’s three leadership candidates have announced that they will not turn up that day.

Three million public sector workers are expected to take part in the strike.