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Scottish Labour Conference Leonard vows to crack down on blacklisters

CONRAD LANDIN reports from Dundee

RICHARD LEONARD announced new crackdowns on outsourcing and blacklisting this weekend, as he vowed to put people power at the centre of Scotland’s economy and political system.

In his first speech to Scottish Labour conference as the party’s leader, the leftwinger said he would bring social care back into the public sector and mooted a “total ban” on evicting tenants during the winter months.

He said Scottish Labour’s “starting point” would be “to ensure our public services are there to serve the Scottish public not the balance sheets of financiers.”

Vowing to lead “the party of jobs and industry,” he used his speech in Dundee’s Caird Hall to stress that trade unions should “play a part in planning the economy” of Scotland.

“We are the party of co-operative development and public ownership because we believe in an economy as well as a political system which is of the people, by the people and for the people,” he said.

Describing disastrous private finance initiatives in the health sector, Mr Leonard said the need for reversing the trend of privatisation was “a matter of life or death.”

He pledged: “Under my leadership  Scottish Labour will go into the next Holyrood election committed to signing no new private finance deals.

“These contracts do not provide value for money. So, we will go further and also explore how to bring back in-house existing contracts and we will develop alternative public-sector models for funding, saving the public money and improving services and working conditions.”

Mr Leonard won a rapturous reception from party activists. Labour national executive committee member Rhea Wolfson said she was “blown away” by the speech.

Mr Leonard also condemned the use of blacklisting construction firms on public contracts.

“Our strategy will ensure that we stop once and for all giving millions of pounds of public money in subsidies to exploitative tax-avoiding companies like Amazon down the road in Dunfermline,” he said.

“And that we stop awarding billions of pounds of public procurement contracts to companies which don’t pay a living wage which use zero-hours contracts and which blacklist workers.

“So we meet in Dundee and we applaud the redevelopment of the waterfront, but we condemn the use of a blacklisting company to do it.”

Construction giants BAM and Sir Robert McAlpine have won major contracts out of the redevelopment, which includes a new branch of the V&A museum.

Both were members of the Consulting Association, which was exposed in 2009 for running an illegal blacklist of trade union activists.


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