I was delighted to attend the Blindcraft lobby of Edinburgh City Council this morning particularly as it resulted in a partial success for the workers/campaigners involved.
The SNP Group backed down over plans to close the factory and send 70 blind and disabled staff onto the dole. Edinburgh City Council officials had prepared a report recommending closure. Their decision was based on trying to save £700,000 a year from the subsidies it presently makes to Blindcraft's Craigmillar operations. Late last night however the SNP Group, which runs the administration in coalition with the Lib Dems, decided to opt for short time working at the factory instead of complete closure. Their decision came after they had learned the Labour Group was to table such an amendment to the officers report.
So today at 9.30am we had the spectacle of both SNP and Labour Councillors leafleting the lobbyists -rather than the other way round- with details of the same amendment/alternative to closure.
SO why the eleventh hour change of heart by the SNP? Could their decision to move to a three day week for six months at the Craigmillar site be anything to do with the terribly damaging PR such a closure decision might bring and the imminent Scottish Parliament elections?
Either way the workers at Blindcarft and their union The National League for the Blind and Disabled/Community welcomed the reprieve. At least it lifts the immediate threat of closure they reasoned. However they are under no illusions they will have to return to a campaign footing after Christmas as they come to terms with 3 day working and gear up for the battle ahead.
* Come and hear Blindcraft campaigner Hannah Lister outline their case at the SSP public meeting on Monday.
Public meeting - 'Fight Back against the cuts'.
Monday 22nd Nov at 7pm
Kirkgate Community Centre [Foot of Leith Walk]
Speakers Colin Fox, SSP national spokesman,
Raphie De Santos, socialist economist,
Phil McGuiness, Edin Univ student
and Hannah Lister, Blindcraft.