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Showing posts with the label Dundee

The Price of Cost-Saving

Steven Conway died while working at Diamond Wheels (Dundee) Ltd. There were no safety protocols in place at the premises, no risk assessment was carried out and there was no safe system of work in place.
The 33-year-old was sent in to remove debris from a tank containing "volatile" chemicals with limited protective clothing. He was wearing only trainers, tracksuit bottoms and a t-shirt and fleece. The mask he was given did nothing to protect him from the toxic fumes let off by the chemicals and was actually releasing "contaminants" into his air supply. The gloves he was given had holes in them. He had suffered chemical burns from contact with hydrofluoric acid. Pathologists concluded he had died from inhaling industrial paint stripper.
Diamond Wheels, pleaded guilty to a charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act. They will face a fine as a punishment.

Then and now

From the June 1986 issue of the Socialist Standard
In March, I went along to the Dundee Rep to watch the world premiere of They Farily Mak Ye Work, a play based on the life of Dundee's jute-mill workers from the First World War to the early Thirties. The play covered some of the important events of the period such as the Mill Workers' Strike of 1922 and the Means Test demonstration of 1931 but what impressed most was the quite remarkable resilience displayed by workers enduring quite dire poverty in their day to day lives.
When I left the Rep. I wondered if there were many people who had been left thinking, "Ah great, another fine play about the inter-war depression . . . I'm glad things are very different now". While in some respects life has become more comfortable for working people in the 1980s, it would be mistaken to suggest that there have been fundamental changes since the 1930s.
Exploitation Today we are again witnessing record levels of unemployment: wor…

Dundee - the city's culture is deprivation

More than a quarter of Dundee children are living in poverty, according to latest figures.In some areas of the city, one in three youngsters are below the poverty line as parents struggle to feed their families. The East End has 36% of kids classified as being in poverty, while Lochee and the North East of the city both have 30%. On average across the city, 26% of children are poverty-stricken — more than one in four. Coldside has 29% of children suffering, while Maryfield has 28% and Strathmartine 27%. The lowest figure for a Dundee ward was the well-off Broughty Ferry, at 7% Mary Kinninmonth, director of Dundee Citizens Advice Bureau, said that some parents in the city were forced to make the choice between heating and food. She said: “There are people who often don’t eat properly themselves, to make sure they can feed their children. “Sometimes it is a stark choice between heating and eating." John Dickie, head of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said problems were…


In 1900 Dundee was associated with one product: jute. Jute was the cheapest of fibres, but it was tough. As such it was the ideal packing material. Jute bagging and jute sacks were used to carry cotton from the American South, grain from the Great Plains and Argentina, coffee from the East Indies and Brazil, wool from Australia, sugar from the Caribbean and nitrates from Chile. Dundee was ‘Juteopolis’ – synonymous with its main industry. This association of place and product was not unusual. We still link Clydebank with ships, Sheffield with steel, Stoke-on-Trent with pottery. Throughout the late nineteenth century, over half of Dundee's workforce worked in the textile sector, which, from the 1860s on, was dominated by jute. Migrant workers arrived in Dundee in thousands. By the end of the 19th century, the city had quadrupled in size. Many of the immigrants were from Ireland, poor and Catholic. Many Catholic Irish immigrants faced discrimination and bigotry in Presbyterian Scot…

O Dear me, The Jute Mill

"O Dear me the World is ill-divided...Them that work the hardest, are aye the least provided"
The Jute mill song is based on the experience of women workers in Dundee who would work up till they had their babies and then had to scrape a living from pitiful wages. It reflects on the deep inequality in society. It speaks to a great many people then and now on how working for a wage feels like degradation with little to show for it at the end of the day. The lyrics manage to convey the lack of time in the workers life. Wage labour swallows it up and divides it into blurry sections called work and rest. They are always on the clock.

A challenge to debate

Harvey Duke, Organiser at Dundee Unemployed Support Centre, said: “Iain Duncan-Smith says he wants to cut all benefits, just as thousands of jobs are to be cut. Dundee Unemployed Support Centre challenges him to come to Dundee, where 24% of families already live in poverty, and debate his cuts in a public meeting. It's one thing to attack the poorest families from the comfort of a London club. It's another thing to look in the eyes of those whose incomes he will slash.Unemployed workers are fed up being told we are all scroungers. Some of us have worked for decades. We don't need threats or slave labour. We need and demand real jobs with a living wage.”

Dundee has the highest levels of poverty in Scotland with 24% of families officially classed as poor.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said; “Iain Duncan-Smith should have the guts to stand up in front of the communities at the sharp end of his welfare cuts, like the people of Dundee. If he refuses to meet with the Unemployed C…

city of discovery

In an article ex-Labour MP , John McAllion , describes his home-town of Dundee that provides some interesting statistics.

In the 19th century, the High Court Judge Lord Cockburn described Dundee as a "sink of atrocity which no moral flushing seems capable of cleansing". James Cameron, who began a career in journalism in the city in the 1930s, described the east coast town as a "symbol of a society that had gone sour".

A national study, "A Divided Britain", identified residents in many of the city's working class neighbourhoods as suffering from the "worst financial hardship in Britain". This was backed up by a contemporary Scottish Executive report showing that 46 per cent of resident households in the city had a net income of less than £10,000 a year while 55 per cent of the same households contained no-one who was working. A Joseph Rowntree Foundation report branded Dundee as a city of poverty, teenage mothers and poor mental health.Dunde…