New fund to help modernise trade unions in face of increasing attacks on worker pay and conditions
THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT has launched a new quarter million pound fund to help trade unions respond to anti-trade union legislation passed at Westminster in May.
The new fund will be used to support attempts by Scottish trade unions to modernise and mitigate the impact of attempts to inhibit workplace organisation under the terms of the Trade Union Act.
The fund is intended to help trade unions overcome the extra red-tape that will be foisted on trade unions by the new law.
Launching the fund, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The Scottish Government believes the Trade Union Act, passed by the UK Government, is unnecessary legislation that threatens the capacity of trades unions to deliver the constructive employment relations that underpin a fairer, more inclusive and more successful economy.
“There is clear evidence that unionised workplaces have more engaged staff, have a higher level of staff training and a progressive approach to staff wellbeing. That is why we are committed to supporting strong trade unions in Scotland. Our distinct approach, unlike that of the UK Government, is based on partnership working as demonstrated through the establishment of the Fair Work Convention and our endorsement of their Fair Work Framework.
“The fund will ensure that the time of union reps is not needlessly diverted to legislation compliance administration but can remain committed to supporting their members and innovation in the workplace through the Fair Work Framework.”
Clauses under the new legislation give the state greater powers to investigate trade unions and their members and insists on a 50 per cent turnout in any trade union ballot for industrial action.
Under the measures, which are unprecedented elsewhere in the democratic world, 45 per cent of UK industrial actions in defence of pay and conditions over the last five years would have been illegal, and if embarked upon today would incur major penalties for trade unions.
Welcoming the plans Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary, said: “From the inception of the Fair Work Commission to their opposition to the Trade Union Bill, the Scottish Government has made clear that it supports organised unions playing a positive role in delivering Fair Work and engaging the skills of its members in driving economic growth and delivering better public services.
“By assisting in mitigating the impacts of the Trade Union Act and encouraging the best use of reps time to positively promote Fair Work and workplace innovation, the Scottish Government has again demonstrated its commitment to positive industrial relations through workplace democracy.”
Both the Scottish and Welsh parliaments have voted to oppose the legislation.
Trade unionism in Scotland has seen a number of small but significant developments in recent years, including the victory, in September, of rail workers over plans by Scotrail to extend driver only operated (DOO) trains throughout the country, a strike by college workers which won pay rises as high as 33 per cent in March, and the birth of a new youth trade union movement, Better than Zero, which has deployed creative protests against some of Scotland most exploitative employers.
Picture courtesy of First Minister of Scotland
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