YES Scotland response to STUC Just Scotland



The Yes Campaign has demonstrated that it wants to engage with the Trade Union movement by responding to STUC’s report on A Just Scotland. Although, given the policies constraints of using a shared currency and the EU as envisaged by the Yes campaign, the document asks almost nothing which could not be answered by greater powers to a Scottish Parliament or ideally a federal arrangement within the UK .

The report states that “It does not seek to guarantee or predict any one outcome from independence…” and “Of course, how Scotland would use new powers… is not for the Yes Scotland campaign to say – we leave that to the political parties.” It does not, however, stop the document claiming things for an independent Scotland as if they could make firm policy commitments.

At the heart of the Yes Campaign’s response is a desire to incorporate the trade unions in the “project” of an independent Scotland as if all class conflict would evaporate. They claim that “there is a consensus amongst citizens, civic groups and organisations, as well as political parties and indeed some of our most successful entrepreneurs”. I am sure some of the employees of Brian Souter and Jim McColl find them a long way from the Yes Campaign’s view of “a virtuous cycle of enterprise and compassion”.

It claims that the Scottish Government and COSLA are working to ameliorate the impact of changes to Council Tax included in coalition welfare policy, but neglects to mention the SNP’s attack on local government with its imposed Council Tax freeze on local government since 2007.

In its section on Labour Market and Rights the theme of incorporation continues with the promotion of “social partnership” with government and employers. Many would argue that Trade Unions have a different role to play and should not allow themselves to be sucked into a cosy relationship with employers instead of standing up for their members’ rights.

As for workers’ rights the document can only echo Alex Salmond’s half hearted comment “There is little appetite in Scotland for a further diminution of workers’ rights”, ignoring the fact that we already have the most restrictive laws in Europe and ones which have been repeatedly condemned by the ILO. Such a phrase clearly indicates the SNP’s wish to keep big business on board and should be a warning light to the TU movement. The TU movement would continue to be hamstrung by legal restraints. This itself should be concern every trade unionist.

The document is right in saying that the debate provides a unique opportunity for Scotland to address key questions for Scotland ‘s future, but as the Red Paper Collective argues, the answer is not independence, but to make a start by using those powers already available to the Scottish Parliament.

The Red Paper Collective’s exploration of how to bring about greater equality and fairer redistribution of wealth and how to gain democratic control of our economy suggests the need for much greater change that would impact more on most working people than the timid approach on currency, defence, the monarchy and industrial development demonstrated by the Yes Scotland Campaign.


7 thoughts on “YES Scotland response to STUC Just Scotland

    Winning a majority to enable a referendum to be held to create an independent counrty after 300 years of union and the STUC finds that timid? What would it take to get the STUC to sit up and take notice?

  2. I should point out to Richard that the comments was from the Red Paper Collective and not the STUC. The timidity applied to the Yes Scotland’s vision, particularly relating to trade union rights.

  3. Pauline, thanks for the correction.
    Correct me again if I’m wrong but so far the STUC nor for that matter the Red Paper Collective have not said what side of the referendum debate they stand. Is it not time for Scotland’s great socialist institutions to show leadership to the massed ranks of the working class and say Yes or No.

  4. Most trade unions take the view that there is nothing to take a decision on as yet. That may change when the Scottish Government define independence in their White Paper and the unionist parties set out what sort of devolution will happen if Scotland votes no.

  5. Dave,
    I would argue that for the STUC to say their opinion on independence or the union is that they don’t have an opinion yet is frankly dishonest.
    Dishonest, because there are going to be big winners and some losers for Scottish trade unions should Scotland vote yes. The unions that represent civil servants for example, should be, if they were to put the interests of their members first, shouting yes to independence at the top of its voice. Their membership numbers will explode in an independent Scotland. On the other side of the coin those unions that have members working at Faslane are going to suffer.
    This is pretty basic stuff but the fact that it is not being discussed is as I say dishonest of the STUC. It suggests to followers of Scottish politics that the STUC has been gagged. Do I have to spell this out, that they are putting the UK TUC and the interests of their political affiliates at Westminster ahead of the interests of those they are elected to represent in Scotland

  6. Some more enlightenment. The STUC is an entirely separate organisation from the TUC. There is no direction from ‘London’. There is a very open debate on constitutional issues within the trade union movement in Scotland as evidenced by the many events and consultation workshops that have been organised and materials produced. The Just Scotland website explains this very clearly.

    However, I appreciate that this will not satisfy those like yourself who have a fixed position and can’t understand the simple fact that others are still open to debate these issues.

  7. I stand corrected and thank you for explaining the constitutional position of the STUC as an entirely independent Scottish organisation.
    So in summary and for my benefit, it would be fair to say that the current position of the STUC as to Scotland’s constitutional future is – undecided.
    You can appreciate why people like myself with a ‘fixed position’ as you call it find an irony in this; that is that one independent Scottish institution clearly proud of its long tradition will not endorse the same constitutional arrangement for the nation it serves. You could reasonably argue that that is elitist.

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