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The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
22nd December 2011

Christmas diary

The last time I wrote I was on my way to Hamilton in a hurricane for the Hamilton West and Earnock by-election. Our candidate was John Menzies he is a crisis nurse with a young family. This is a pic of the hurricane heading across Glasgow.

Well the wind of change sweeping through Scotland gave us another win that night. John was elected as local councillor with 50% of the vote yes! 50% of the vote. Given that this is the last election before the council elections next May it gave us a boost to continue our campaign to take control of South Lanarkshire Council next year. John will make a great councillor and he was in the office the next day getting down to business immediately.

Yesterday I had a wonderful visit from my friend Gregoire Watupa. Gregoire is from Congo and has lived in Scotland for a number of years now. He is campaigning along with others from the Congolese diaspora for a peaceful transition following the elections in DRC. He along with his group attended the Scottish Parliament and I was delighted to host the visit. The group have put together a petition calling on the UK government to put as much pressure as possible on the outgoing government as possible to have a peaceful hand over of power. One issue they wished to highlight was the horrible truth of how rape is used as a weapon of war, the figures quoted are 48 rapes per hour these rapes are perpetrated on the women, children and men by soldiers and rebels. It is a human cost that I find too expensive and all nations of the world should be trying to stop this heinous war crime.

The group were very pleased to be accepted to the Scottish Parliament and they met a number of other MSPs including James Dornan, Sandra White, Humza Youssef, Bill Kidd, Linda Fabiani, John Mason and Bob Doris. Here are some pics of their visit and yes they did sing, play drums and had whistles. They were a wonderful sight outside our Parliament.

So today I was off to the office of Scotland’s First Minister to deliver on behalf of the Scottish Congolese Coalition the petition they gave me yesterday. As you can see our First Minister was delighted to have accepted the petition. I will, along with my colleagues will continue to seek peace and justice for our brothers and sisters around the world.

I have lodged two very important motions in the last week I think you will be interested in them so here is the text.

Employment Tribunal

That the Parliament is deeply concerned by UK Government proposals to charge fees for taking a claim to an employment tribunal and employment appeal tribunal; notes that, under the options set out in a consultation paper, prospective claimants could be forced to pay between £150 and £1,750 before their case is even heard; further notes that the consultation contains proposals designed to limit the amount of compensation that can be applied for and awarded; believes that the introduction of upfront fees for taking a claim to an employment tribunal unfairly weighs the balance in favour of employers and against employees and will lead to some employees, such as low-paid women workers in South Lanarkshire and across the country, being unable to seek redress for unfair treatment; further believes that forcing people to pay before they can access an employment tribunal is a wholly inappropriate way of generating public funds; further believes that the right to protection against unfair or prejudicial treatment at work, to seek justice if such treatment is experienced and to be compensated for harm that has been done is a fundamental one that should be available to all employees; further believes that the UK Ministry of Justice’s proposals are an attack on employment rights, and considers them to be unjust.

Letter to Santa

That the Parliament welcomes the new Letter to Santa joint campaign by the Violence Reduction Unit and Children 1st, which highlights the impact of domestic abuse on the whole family at Christmas; notes that the campaign was inspired by Children 1st service-users who shared their experiences of Christmas growing up in a home where domestic violence was present; further notes that, according to the Violence Reduction Unit, the Christmas period is a peak time for domestic abuse incidents; believes that children who witness domestic violence are also victims of it and can experience lifelong effects as a result; commends the work of Children 1st in supporting children who are victims of domestic violence, and supports the aim of the Letter to Santa campaign of encouraging anyone concerned about a child experiencing violence in the home this Christmas to contact ParentLine Scotland on 0800 028 2233.

Last week I spoke in a debate about our plans to integrate health and social care with a view to ensuring that people have a seamless health care service.

Here is the link to the debate; You will see me around 1hour 49mins.

Tonight we had a vote on the legislative consent memorandum about the changes to the welfare system. For once Labour and the SNP joined forces to roundly condemn the UK Government for changes to the welfare system that will have a serious detrimental impact on some of the most vulnerable people in our society. For the first time ever we voted against the plans of the UK I believe we did the right thing and that Scotland will not be bumped into accepting changes that are not good for Scotland. We stood up against the worst elements of UK rule but the only way we can truly make the changes we need is to vote YES in the referendum and allow Scotland to be free to make her own choices unburdened by Westminster.

I am off home now to prepare my home and family for a peaceful Christmas and a very Happy New Year. Can I wish you all the same and let’s hope next year is as exciting as last year.

Merry Christmas……

Christina McKelvie MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall & Stonehouse

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