Aslef and Unite join TSSA in the leftwinger’s camp
THE left-wing candidate in the Scottish Labour leadership contest received the support of two more trade unions yesterday.
Central Scotland MSP Richard Leonard was backed by train drivers’ union Aslef and Unite Scotland in his bid to defeat “moderate” candidate Anas Sarwar.
Mr Leonard, who was a GMB union organiser for 20 years, received support from rail union TSSA last Friday and is expected to gain further labour movement endorsements over the coming weeks.
Since entering the contest sparked by Kezia Dugdale resigning last month, Mr Leonard, an unwavering supporter of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, has put forward a manifesto that includes rent controls and an industrial strategy involving public ownership of rail and mail.
Unite Scotland chair Scot Walker said: “We want Labour to take the radical socialist road in Scotland.
“We support Richard Leonard because we believe he would take us on that journey.
“We urge Unite members to follow our lead and vote for Richard in the coming election.”
Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said: “We’re proud to support his campaign. He’s a committed trade unionist and recognises that the people of Scotland are hungry for change.
“I know that under Richard’s leadership, train drivers will have a robust voice in Scotland.”
Aslef’s Scotland organiser Kevin Lindsay said: “I’ve known Richard for many years ... He wants to ensure Scotland’s railways are run for the people, not to subsidise the fares of our European neighbours or to be given away as dividends to line the pockets of private company shareholders.
“He’ll represent the vast majority of Scottish people who are fed up with the status quo.”
Mr Sarwar, who is expected to receive the support of most Labour MSPs, MPs and MEPs, has claimed that only he could lead the party to victory over the SNP.
He denied being “one of the few” in defending his family’s business United Wholesale (Scotland) Limited — said to be worth around £4.8 million, according to BBC — over its failure to pay all workers the £8.50 living wage promoted by Scottish Labour.
He said on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “I don’t support a voluntary real living wage.
“I support a mandatory real living wage. I don’t think it is right that the market dictates what a fair day’s pay is. That is why I want it to be a compulsory policy.”
The new leader is due to be announced on November 18.