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Tom Greatrex, MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, recently visited the Scottish Gas Training Academy at the Hamilton Technology Park to mark National Apprenticeship Week. 

Tom was given an overview of the training academy, the work that they do and a tour of the building, and had the chance to chat with some of the latest group of apprentices, including several from the local area.

British Gas have training academies throughout the UK – at the training academy in Hamilton, there are currently around 100 apprentices. Just last year, Scottish Gas announced plans to train around 100 more at the Hamilton academy. Over the past 5 years British Gas has trained over 2,500 apprentices, which represents around 30% of the whole engineering workforce. At present there are currently 1,200 apprentices enrolled in their academies across the country.  

Tom said: “I was delighted to be able to come back and visit the Scottish Gas Training Academy in Hamilton again recently. With the introduction of smart meters being rolled out over the next few years, and a range of new and more efficient ways of heating homes, then the range of skills taught at the Academy has expanded even in the three years since my last visit. It was good to meet the latest group of Scottish Gas apprentices to mark National Apprenticeship Week – and the range of backgrounds of the men and women who have secured an apprenticeship. It was interesting to speak to people who had come out of the armed forces, University and also in Scottish Gas’ customer service centre in Uddingston who are training as engineers locally.  Apprenticeships like this are key to encouraging more people into engineering jobs so that we can ensure we have enough workers equipped with the right skills we need for the future.

“Apprenticeship Week is a great way at celebrating the success which individual learners can achieve and encouraging more businesses to invest in apprentices. It’s all about raising awareness of how worthwhile an apprenticeship can be to all those involved – the learner, the business and, in the long-term, the consumer too.”

Tom Greatrex MP backs apprenticeship week with Scottish Gas

Tom Greatrex, MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, recently visited the Scottish Gas Training Academy at the Hamilton Technology Park to mark National Apprenticeship Week. 


Tom writes about the latest budget, updates on school transport changes and the Cambuslang & Ruthergen Sports Council Awards in his latest column for the Rutherglen Reformer (25/3/15)


Last week was the sixth George Osborne Tory budget – and hopefully the last one too. In less than 50 days, we will all have the opportunity to decide whether we want to continue with the failed Tory austerity of the last 5 years, or a better plan to make the economy fairer and take action so that deficit reduction is done in a balanced and proportionate way.

It is a matter of record now that the decision of the government almost exactly 5 years ago to cut stimulus just at the time that the economy was beginning to grow after the global downturn of 2008 set the direction for what has happened since.

Frequently in this column I have made the point that the best way to both reduce the deficit and also spend less on welfare support is to get jobs and growth into the economy – more tax receipts, more spending power in the local economy and less need to supplement low wages through benefits. The Tory approach has been to borrow more – with the Tories in office borrowing £200bn more than Labour planned -, to enable exploitative zero hours contracts to become the mainstay of many large retailers and well-known brands, and to leave real wages £1600 lower at the end of the Parliament than at the start.

It is little wonder that for many people from across all parts of the UK, the economic growth they hear about is not their experience. When people have jobs but they are reliant on a text message at the start of the week to tell them whether they have any work at the same time as millionaires have had an income tax cut then it is not an indicator of fairness in the economy. That is why a Labour government elected in less than 50 days will increase the minimum wage, incentivise and promote the living wage, end exploitative zero hours contracts so people with regular jobs have the protections of a regular contract and use the proceeds of a UK wide mansion tax to invest in the NHS.

In many ways the latest budget was a non-event in the measures it introduced – but it is the spending, or more accurately, austerity plans for the next five years that Osborne set out that will have the real impact. Increasing the rate of cuts in the next three years to double that we have seen so far will set the tone for the next five years if the Tories are back in power. Swingeing cuts in services and a likely increase in VAT will make life even harder, not better, for all but the wealthiest. That is why the choice – between a Labour and a Tory government – is so stark, and any vote against Labour only helps David Cameron become the largest party and continue in office. That choice is in the hands of people here and across Scotland.

School Transport

In the last couple of weeks I have been contacted by parents concerned about the impact of changes to school transport for secondary children living between 2 and 3 miles from their catchment school. With the SNP in Edinburgh forcing massive and disproportionate cuts on local councils across Scotland and changing the funding formula so we lose £3.5m locally, the Council have a tough job to balance the budget. Having made representations to the Council on behalf of constituents, there is now a consultation process on changes, including looking at the important issues of what the safe routes to school and public transport options there are for various areas. I would encourage everybody to ensure they respond to the consultation questionnaire (it runs until 13 May) and attend the public meeting at Cathkin High School on 29 April at 6pm.

Sports Council Special Award    

I was pleased to be able to be at the Cambuslang & Rutherglen Sports Council awards, and to present some awards to local teams including Rutherglen Tennis Club and Cambuslang Rugby. I was even more delighted when the contribution of Peter Mullen was recognised with an award for his support of local sport over many years – recognition thoroughly well deserved. 

Commons Comment: The Budget, school transport update & sports council awards

Tom writes about the latest budget, updates on school transport changes and the Cambuslang & Ruthergen Sports Council Awards in his latest column for the Rutherglen Reformer (25/3/15)


Tom Greatrex writes about the General Election and the reasons to vote Labour, in his latest column for the GMB Insight magazine. 

GMB Scotland members working in public services, in energy, in manufacturing, know better than most of the importance of the general election on 7th May. 

There is a very clear choice – another five years of the Tory failed austerity agenda, or a better plan with a Labour government. With the polls indicating a close election, with Labour and Tory neck and neck in England and Wales, then it is voters in Scotland that could well decide whether there is a Labour or a Tory government until 2020.

The difference between the two parties that will be in government after the election could not be clearer. The contrast in policies is stark, and the consequences for people in all parts of the UK are striking.

We have had five years of austerity where swingeing Tory cuts choked off the early recovery that they inherited from the last Labour government in 2010. Four and a bit years of bumping along the bottom when people were hit by costs rising well ahead of wages have left working people £1600 worse off now than they were at the time of the last election. That is the first time this has happened since the 1920s. Meanwhile, the wealthiest have been given a Tory tax cut, with the top rate being reduced by George Osborne from 50p to 45p. At the same time, the NHS and public services are being starved of resources and the welfare state undermined and devalued.

The country is crying out for change – and it is Labour that gives us the chance to deliver a fairer economy and give our young people the chance for the best start in life.

That is why, the issues having been highlighted by GMB campaigns, we will give workers a better deal by banning exploitative zero-hour contracts so those with regular jobs get a regular contract. The Tories won’t. That is why we will give 500,000 Scots a wage rise by increasing the minimum wage to £8. The Tories won’t. That’s why we will reverse the Tories’ tax cut for millionaires and bring back the 10p starter rate of tax for low earners. The Tories won’t. That is why we will levy a mansion tax on high earners whose homes are worth £2m or more across Britain to invest in the NHS, including 1,000 more nurses in Scotland. The Tories won’t.

But it is not just the Tories who won’t deliver on social justice – the SNP want to get rid of the stability of the Barnett formula, which helps prevent the oil price shock starve our public services of cash, and replace it with full fiscal autonomy. According to the independent and reputable Institute for Fiscal Studies, that will leave Scotland £6.6bn worse off next year alone. In Holyrood, they voted with the Tories against a 50p tax rate in Scotland to invest in education and training for young people. They also voted down plans for the Scottish government to be able to use its new powers on welfare to make cash payments in favour of demeaning voucher only schemes.

Those fundamental differences highlight exactly why a Labour-SNP coalition would not work, and why it won’t happen. The choice is between more Tory austerity, or a better plan with Labour. In an election where Scotland could make the difference, voting to defeat Labour MPs helps only David Cameron. The fewer Labour MPs there are in Scotland, the more chance the Tories will be the largest party in the UK and carry on in power.

There is a real divide between the main parties at this election, and a real and compelling choice. Scotland does well when working families do well, and that is why fairness is at the heart of Labour plans. It is either a Labour or a Tory government afterwards – for positive policies on a better plan for a fairer economy, and to stop Tory plans to slash investment to 1930s levels – then voting Labour on the 7th May is the right choice for GMB members across the country.


General Election: the compelling reasons to vote Labour

Tom Greatrex writes about the General Election and the reasons to vote Labour, in his latest column for the GMB Insight magazine.  GMB Scotland members working in public services, in...

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