CLYDEBANK TUC, along with the local joint trades unions, recently held a round table discussion on the situation in Venezuela.

As your correspondent Jean MacKay said last week in the paper there was a good turnout to hear two well informed speakers from the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign (VSC) despite the weather being less than kind on the night.

Those present heard that this was a very difficult time for Venezuela with the US Trump administration and internal right wing forces seeking to destabilise and overthrow the elected government and the former also introducing sanctions aimed at starving the country of finances and even threatening military action.

An open invitation to the meeting had been made to the MP for West Dunbartonshire Martin Docherty-Hughes who had asked a series of hostile questions on Venezuela in Parliament but unfortunately neither he or a representative turned up to argue his case.

The VSC has offered to debate the situation with Martin and give him an opportunity to defend his position which came in for much criticism at the meeting.

The trade union movement will be happy to host such event.

Tom Morrison, secretary, Clydebank TUC

I NOTICE that Jackie Baillie MSP has been speaking about the values she holds dear.

Would these be the same values which causes her to support Anas Sarwar as Labour Leader who profits from a family business which doesn't pay the Living Wage;

or the values of supporting the retention of the UK's nuclear arsenal so long as its base is in her constituency; or the values of her sidelining the local inter-party and non-aligned Health Campaign Group when it didn't suit her electoral purposes?

Her cynicism and "I'm all right Jackie-ism" will only be trumped when she no doubt will declare her undying support for Jeremy Corbyn.

Watch this space!

Graeme McCormick, SNP Dumbarton

SINCE 1970, wildlife populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles around the world have more than halved (58 per cent), and sadly at a rate that shows no sign yet of slowing down.

This isn’t just an issue impacting the rest of the world – in the UK, many of our own species are witnessing a shocking decline in numbers, with many at risk of extinction. That’s why, as a WWF Global Ambassador and a parent, I’m asking everyone to come together and Wear It Wild on Friday 20th October 2017 to help WWF protect our precious wildlife and their habitats.

We're losing species at a rate consistent with a sixth mass extinction event.

The thought that in my lifetime we could lose so many species, including some of our most iconic, such as tigers, elephants and polar bears, is incredibly shocking.

I can’t stand by and watch this happen. I’m determined to help change this trend but I need your help to do it.

The good news is that there’s still time, there’s still hope. While since the beginning of the 20th century, we’ve lost over 95 per cent of the world’s wild tiger population, recent figures show that since 2010 the estimated number of wild tigers has risen from 3,200 to 3,900 thanks to the tireless efforts of governments and conservation organisations, such as WWF and our partners.

This is the first time in conservation history that wild tiger numbers have increased.

For the third year, WWF is challenging the nation to Wear It Wild and don animal-inspired fancy dress and raise money. As little as £5 can help train sniffer dogs to track down tiger poachers. £20 can help researchers better understand the impact of climate change on wildlife like polar bears. While, £120 could pay for a camera to help monitor wild giant pandas.

Everyone can take part in Wear It Wild on Friday 20th October. Simply visit:, dress up and donate to help protect our planet and its wildlife. Don’t forget to share #WearItWild so we can see what you have planned.

Andy Murray.

CHRISTMAS may be a few months away again at this time of year but what about the one thing that really hangs over our heads at that time of year too (No, it's not the weather, a recession or WWIII)?

It places a major headache on any person, let alone parents, and puts the fear into them that one day it will become too big to ignore and will have major consequences for yourself as well as your family.

I'm talking about the word we fear most: DEBT - a sum of money that is not of real value but due to be given to someone else.

Whenever Christmas approaches, we are at a point where we have to show our spirit of charity and giving to others as we give to ourselves.

Typically kids will want the best gifts there ever are in the stores, whether it be on our high streets or nowadays online.

This can range from toys, to electronics, live concerts and even travel holidays.

Then on the list of who else to give presents to, there are the rest of your loved ones, your partner and your colleagues (including your boss) as well as to those in desperate need.

All good desires capable of spreading happiness when achieved and gained.

The trouble is, this would be easy to do if you were rich with little or no debt whatsoever.

According to the Bank of England, the amount of consumer debt in the UK has risen to an 11-year high at a growth of 10.5 per cent at £67.3bn in February this year, at a point more higher than before the financial crisis of 2008 but far lower than before the Dot Com Bubble burst in 2000.

On Monday, September 25, the same bank warned that a consumer debt crisis could cost British banks £30bn in losses as lenders of credit card debt.

This, along with the rising number of homelessness in Scotland, is happening at an insane pace even if the number of home repossessions fell in 2016.

The simple way of getting out of debt is gaining and spending as much money as you need to pay off the debt as well as helping yourself and others in your property.

Or quite simply, don't take out a loan at all.

I know it will be difficult to talk to anyone else, let alone your kids and your loved ones, that your simple wish is to get out of debt and sustain yourself financially.

You most likely will be referred to a certain Mr Scrooge as a way of saying that 'wow, you must hate Christmas'.

That seems to have become an unofficial but prevalent social law since the time Christmas came into existence.

But imagine if the Christmas Carol character did not own enough gold and silver to pay off a huge debt hanging around his neck so therefore he would have to save money in order to gain his survival to stay warm in his own home in London and he got told, "stop being so selfish!"

He'll really not like that one bit, would accuse you of not being sympathetic towards him and maybe might kill himself to get away from the burden.

If you wish to get the rich to be more giving to the poor including Tiny Tim, best do your fluent research of who is rich and how rich they are and maybe start at the very top of the tree before jumping to ill-informed conclusions.

To teach your kids about Debt, this will have to begin at a very young age when their brains begin to expand and they understand more of the world around them.

This sadly will also involve having to confront the everlasting phenomenon that is a fictional big man wearing a red suit and hat who owns reindeers and can travel fast all over the world.

Now I am not saying we should get rid of this man completely, we should still celebrate the fun atmosphere surrounding him but let's not forget the way Christmas began was with St Nicholas, a man who gave to the poor and never owned a secret intelligence agency that can spy on you to see if you were behaving good or badly.

Teach them that debt is not as simple as borrowing money and giving back because you have to give back at a set interest rate which can go up or go down.

When I was young and growing up, I learned about who the man in the red suit was and what he did so I behaved at my best and wrote a list of gifts for him to give to me as a reward for my good behaviour and left it at the fireplace but then word got out about my rather extraordinary list and I was eventually and immediately asked to limit it to something affordable within our means.

So for this time of year, teach about giving and gratitude. If you are asked what you want (need) for Christmas, make having and keeping a roof over your head with warmth, staying out of hunger, staying healthy and getting out of debt a top priority.

Oh, and kids, to teach you about being more grateful at this time of year, what would you like to give this Christmas? You decide.

Jonathan Rainey, Dumbarton.

YOUR readers may have read about a potential strike at Royal Mail by the Communications Workers Union (CWU).

Our postmen and women have the best pay – and the best terms and conditions – in our industry.

They do an amazing job in all weathers – rain or shine. Average pay is 45-50 per cent above the National Living Wage. None of that is changing. There are just no grounds for a strike.

Previous strikes at Royal Mail meant we let our customers down.

Some of our major rivals today were actually established because of those strikes. There really is no point shooting ourselves in the foot.

So, what’s at issue? Well, not the great terms and conditions postmen and women have, as I said before. On pay, we have made a very good offer. That follows a 10.8 per cent pay rise in the four years since privatisation. That compares favourably with the 6.4 per cent UK national average earnings increase over the same period.

On pensions, we know how important pension benefits are to colleagues. Our proposal would be by far the best pension scheme in the industry – and one that benchmarks well to other large employers.

Many of our postmen and women are in a Defined Benefit scheme - 63 per cent, in fact, compared to just 6 per cent of workers across the UK private sector.

We do need to change to a different type of Defined Benefit arrangement.

That’s because - every year - it would cost us at least three times more than the cash we generate just to keep the existing pension open. No business could do that.

Royal Mail is a very good employer. We provide great terms and conditions. We are working hard to keep improving our services to customers in a very competitive industry. There is no need to strike.

We want to work with our postmen and women, our great ambassadors, to keep being the best delivery company in the UK.

Rob Jenson, Royal Mail Scotland Operations Director.