This week in Brexit news

David Paul gives us a quick look at some of the big Brexit news this week:

Alcoholics Anonymous celebrates 70 years in Scotland


Leaflets aimed to make people consider their drink consumption

2018 marks 70 years of Alcoholics Anonymous helping people overcome their dependency in Scotland. To honour this anniversary, MSP Monica Lennon is sponsoring an event tomorrow evening at the Scottish Parliament.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in Scotland has changed the lives of thousands of alcoholics who have bravely battled their addiction and have continued to lead a sober life. AA provides free drop-in group meetings all across Scotland, which are non-compulsory, and members are not required to disclose their identity.

At the event, AA members will share their personal experience with alcoholism and their journey to sobriety with the guidance of AA. One such member, Martin B, will be part of the presentation at the Parliament tomorrow. He previously represented AA by helping to curate an exhibition at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow that showcased the history of AA as a service in Scotland. 

Martin said of AA’s impact in Scotland, “It’s been the best thing that’s ever happened for many, many people. There are nearly 1000 groups in Scotland and you can go to AA seven days a week.”

Throughout the years, AA has worked to ensure that alcoholism is recognised as a mental illness. Martin said,

“The idea that the alcoholic is the person with the raincoat and bottle has long been superseded by the fact that any social class in Scotland is affected by alcoholism. Its helped people from all factions of life.”

Martin has been a member of the AA for 28 years, and believes AA will carry on its essential support for alcoholics and their recovery. He said, “AA will continue to grow, there are younger and younger people coming to AA now which is a real blessing, so they don’t have to go down the road I went down.”

Central to the presentation at the event will be remembering pioneer Sir Philip Dundas. He is credited for establishing Alcoholics Anonymous in 1948 after becoming familiar with the group in America; he then travelled across Scotland setting up meetings. The first meeting was held by Dundas in a church in Perth and was attended by six men.

The 12-step programme is still an integral part of AA’s recovery programme for its members. ‘The Big Book’ details these 12 steps was first published in 1938 and has since sold more than 35 million copies and been translated into 68 different languages.

Although the AA in Scotland has external partnerships with the Scottish Health and Prison Services, they are financially independent and refrain from being affiliated with any outside organisations.

Man drinking in the street – alcoholics often suffer alone


The Scottish government has said that the general consumption of alcohol has seen a gradual decrease of 9% since 2009, however levels are still of concern. The latest figures for 2016/17 show there has been a 33% reduction of alcohol-related deaths since 2003. However, a fifth more alcohol is purchased per adult in Scotland than in England and Wales.

Alcoholics Anonymous say there is an increased number of young people attending meetings. They aim to introduce AA meetings at every university within the UK in order to reduce the number of people suffering with alcoholism throughout their lives.

By Rachel Lee

New rights for 0 hour workers in Britain

New government reforms will give greater rights to the millions of zero hour and agency workers across Britain.

The changes come as a response to last year’s Taylor Review into working practices. Business Secretary Greg Clark has said that the changes will “address very clearly” the rights of those who are in this line of work.

He told the BBC:

“We will be enforcing the rights that people have and are entitled to.

We want to embrace new ways of working, and to do so we will be one of the first countries to prepare our employment rules to reflect the new challenges.”

The government claims that the majority of the Taylor Review’s suggestions will be adopted.  However, unions have said that the changes will leave 1.8 million workers without vital rights.

As part of its changes the government will: enforce holiday and sick pay entitlements, give all workers the right to demand a payslip and allow flexible workers to demand more stable contracts.

The review focuses on the gig economy of part time and flexible workers.  There was an estimated 1.1 million people working in Britain’s gig economy in 2017.

What do gig workers do? | Image Credit: Reuters

EN4 News spoke to some 0 hour workers to get their views on the proposed changes.

Leila Wallace, an agency worker for Quality Link, said that although her experience with agency work has been positive, she appreciates the changes and how they will benefit others.

“I personally already receive these benefits.  I get a payslip every week, even if I’m not working, and recently received my holiday pay.

I think 0 hour contracts are great, obviously there are some negatives, but the job allows me to work around my university schedule and my social life.

However, I do know some more disadvantaged 0 hour contract workers who struggle to get the hours they need, so giving them more stability in their job will definitely be a positive change.”

Other workers agreed that they had positive experiences with 0 hour contracts in the past, Sophie-Ann Mair, a member of the House Team for Edinburgh University’s Student Association, said:

“Personally zero hour contracts in my experience have always been positive.

However, in my current job I do get holiday pay and they allow me flexible working hours around my studies.”

She added that it is important that all employers follow these rules, not just some:

“I know I’m in a lucky position in that my employer works around me rather than the other way around.

I think it is important people on zero hour contracts are entitled to the same rights as contract workers, as if they do not, zero hour contracts become a way for employers to cut corners and not value their workers.”

Unions have criticised the proposed changes, claiming that there is little substance to the plans.  Trades Union Congress General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“The government has taken a baby step – when it needed to take a giant leap.

These plans won’t stop the hire and fire culture of zero-hours contracts or sham self-employment. And they will still leave 1.8 million workers excluded from key protections.”

Man Critical after deliberate collision in Glasgow


Jamaica St is expected to remain closed for most of today

A 32-year-old man is in a life threatening condition in hospital after a car was deliberately driven at him in Glasgow city centre.

Police said the incident happened at about 1 am in the city’s Jamaica Street and involved a Volkswagen car.

The man was taken by ambulance to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital where he remains.

Police have appealed for witnesses to the incident, which has resulted in the closure of Jamaica Street.

They are warning commuters that the road will be closed for some time and to expect disruption.

The road has closed from Argyle Street, with nearby Howard Street also affected.

A police spokesman said: “At around 00:45 on Wednesday 11 January a 32-year-old man was seriously injured after a Volkswagen car was deliberately driven at him in Jamaica Street.”

“He was taken by ambulance to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital where he remains for treatment.”

“Hospital staff describe his condition as life threatening. Jamaica Street is closed while officers carry out inquiries.”

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