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The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
11th November 2010


Last Friday I was Ďdoon the waterí on the Clydeside to show my support for the strike action taken by BBC staff. It was a cold day outside the pacific quay building but there was a lot of warmth from the people there.

The BBC staff are angry that they are having to take a cut to their pension but the big bosses are not. That seems unfair to me and looking at the issue a bit closer reveals that the ordinary workers at the BBC who are to have their pension cut are expected to only have about £4000 per year when they retire but the big bosses are expecting to get £200,000 per year with no cut to entitlement. Now think about it someone getting that big a pension can certainly take a share of the cut and not even notice but if the person on £4000 per year takes a cut then it is most certainly going to hurt. I came into politics to try to bring a bit of fairness to Scotland so the reason I was on the rally was because what they are doing is not fair. Here are the words I said at the rally that day;

 Addressing an NUJ rally in Glasgow I said said that the BBC management were acting totally unfairly and ripping off their employees.

This strike isnít about wanting more, itís not about pay rises, itís not about perks and benefits, this strike is about BBC journalists getting the pensions theyíve already paid for, itís about justice, itís about fairness, itís about the BBC not ripping off its own employees.

I donít see why there isnít a cap on senior executivesí pensions either Ė some of them will pick up pensions of more than £200,000 Ė that canít be right when the corporation is asking lower paid staff to take cuts to their pensions.

More than that Ė the problem they want to address doesnít really exist, theyíre trying to push forward before the valuation report in the new year Ė they donít know if there is a deficit and, in any case, theyíve closed the final salary scheme to new entrants so BBC pensions will be getting cheaper.

I donít have all the answers but you can be sure that you have all of my support and Iíll be talking to the NUJís Paul Holleran about what politicians can do to support you. And as long as there is unfairness I will keep supporting this trade union.

I was back again at pacific quay that evening for the SQA Star awards at the Glasgow Science centre. I had the pleasure of sharing a table with one of the winners. Gordon McDonald was nominated by Reid Kerr college in Paisley. Winner Gordon McDonald studied in many different vocational areas in college. This inspired his vision and dream to become an architect. Gordon distinguished himself by teaching himself new skills and new software.

Gordon started college in 2003 in an initiative for young people not achieving at school. His Dyslexia was diagnosed late and this affected his ability to learn but once he was at college and with the correct support he has excelled. He let me see some of his drawings which where fantastic and he had drawn them all free hand!

I wish Gordon and his very proud family all the best for the future I am sure he will excel in his field. Well done Gordon.

Check out the other winners here;

Winner: Gordon McDonald, Reid Kerr College, Paisley


Equal opportunities committee this week was in private as we are still working on the report into trafficking and migration. I could let the moment pass without saying something about UKBA and the way they are treating vulnerable people in Glasgow. UKBA ended without warning the contract with Glasgow city council to house people seeking sanctuary. It has left 1000 plus people terrified that they going to be ripped out of the communities they live in. the letter sent to these people is horrific. My colleagues in Glasgow are working hard to support the folk and to challenge this terrible situation. This is a copy of the letter let me know what you think.

Of course, big news this week was the Alcohol Bill Ė opposition parties actually made clear during the passage of the Bill that they agreed with what it was meant to do, they agreed with the provisions of the Bill, they just didnít like the idea that it was the SNP doing it.  Labourís twisted and convoluted attempts at rewording parts of the Bill were little more than bizarre.  They even stretched to say that the real problem with drink in Scotland is that some of it has caffeine in it Ė ably answered by Chief Superintendent Bob Hamilton, of Strathclyde Police who said ďWe donít attend many violent disturbances outside coffee shops,Ē.  They were talking about Buckfast as if that particular tipple is the only thing that causes problems with drink in Scotland.  Certainly, Buckfast appears to be a factor in many violent incidents but so is white cider (cider that has nothing whatsoever to do with apples, by the way) Ė and so are other drinks.

Something that is, perhaps, an even greater cost to Scottish society than the violence and its awful aftermath is the range of long-term debilitating diseases caused by alcohol abuse Ė not only do they cost our health service dear, they also mean that people become unproductive, they donít work, they donít contribute to society, they donít lighten the load of others.  With that great problem facing us you would think that the whole Parliament would get round the issue, wouldnít you?  Unfortunately our opposition parties would rather take sensible measures out of a Bill just to try to score some petty points Ė thatís another reason why they should never be trusted with power again.  Their behaviour was shameful, their lack of concern for what was the right thing to do was awful, Scotland deserves better.

And better we got with a dinner and conference for businesses and my partner for the events was Lynn Adams, a small business owner from Hamilton and the first lady President of the Licensed Trade Association.  Once a year the chamber of Parliament is handed over to Business in Parliament for a day-long conference as part of Parliament fulfilling one of its founding principles of engagement with civic Scotland.  It mirrors other events when Parliament is used for the Youth Parliament, health workers conferences, and so on.  Itís a fine reminder that this Parliament belongs to the people, politicians only own it as part of the population, not as politicians.  Itís a lesson that all MSPs would do well to learn and remember Ė if I ever seem to forget you will remind me, wonít you?

Keep shining,


Christina McKelvie MSP
Central Scotland

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