Scotland’s Future

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2014 National Delegate Conference
20 February 2014

Conference notes the Scottish Government has published its White Paper on Independence, their proposal to promote a ‘Yes’ vote in the Referendum to take place on 18 September 2014.

The document covers matters arising from Scotland becoming an independent country like currency and international relations, in addition, it sets out a policy prospectus if the SNP Government are the first government of an independent Scotland.

At this stage, the Unionist/Enhanced Devolution campaigns of the cross-party Better Together and United with Labour, have produced no specific proposals other than the status quo.

UNISON rules devolve to regions policy making responsibility in relation to devolved administrations, while maintaining the integrity and unity of the trade union in accordance with the Protocol issued under Rule D.2.9.5.

UNISON would wish to compare and contrast the positions of the various campaigns and parties with regard to a range of issues affecting our members, at work and in the community. In common with the STUC and the large majority of the trade union movement in Scotland, our approach has been determined less by what power and where it lies, and more in whose interest and for what purpose power is exercised.

UNISON’s approach to constitutional questions is driven by the interests of our members, by the sort of Scotland we want and deserve to live in. This means that for us, precise constitutional arrangements are the end point and not the starting point of the debate. We must first define the sort of Scotland we wish to see and then examine the likelihood of differing constitutional arrangements on offer to deliver on that vision. In that regard we welcome the UNISON Scotland publications, A Fairer Scotland and A Fairer Scotland and Devolution, as valuable contributions to the debate.

UNISON has been a long standing supporter of the campaign for devolution, for the establishment of a Scottish Parliament and for the “Yes-Yes” referendum campaign which followed the 1997 General Election. However, this debate is quite different. In the late 1990s there was a very powerful and broadly supported argument in favour of devolution from the UK Government’s “Scottish Office” to a democratic government elected by the people of Scotland.

In the debate which surrounds the 2014 referendum, the Scottish People and Scottish public service workers will be asking questions on which option will be best for working people and their families in Scotland. The answers to these questions are likely to be less clearly defined and subject to significant differences of view across the spectrum of opinion in the country and the UNISON membership.

It may be difficult to come to a clear view as to the effects of the referendum options on the Scottish economy, Scotland’s public services and on Scotland as a whole. As such, UNISON Scotland will continue to press the various parties and organisations in the debate on the issues of importance to our members at work, to the services they provide and the communities they live in, encouraging the fullest engagement of our members in the debates, while respecting the diversity of views of the members which they will register in the Referendum.

Regardless of the outcome of the referendum UNISON members in Scotland will continue to have common interests with UNISON members throughout the UK. UNISON will continue to seek to build the strongest possible union for the benefits of all UNISON members in these four nations.