Friday, 19 September 2014

We will continue to press for a Just and Fairer Scotland

#indyref Mike Kirby UNISON Scottish Secretary: This independence referendum has been extra-ordinary. The turnout alone (84%) the highest for any election in over 60 years– tells you how seriously voters took their responsibility. It is a truly humbling experience to see the power of democracy at times like this.

UNISON is the biggest trade union in Scotland. We took our role to ensure that the debate about Scotland constitutional future delivered concrete benefits for working people very seriously too.

We engaged our membership through the formal processes at UNISON Scottish Council and a series of area consultations. The extent of the engagement amongst our members was reflected in what we have seen across community and town halls throughout Scotland.

The views and reflections of UNISON members were articulated in our two documents A Fairer Scotland and Fairer Scotland and Devolution.

I am grateful that we received the full support of UNISON at a UK level as expressed in a resolution at the national 2014 delegate conference which urged UNISON members in Scotland to engage in the debate and to press for commitments from all parties along the lines of UNISON’s Fairer Scotland proposals.

Our key concerns were the role public services play in improving the quality of lives for ordinary people, and the levers for the economy and how they are used to create decent jobs, tackle low pay and end poverty.

The future of public services was debated across the media, local communities and families in Scotland. It clearly weighed on the minds of most as they casted their vote in this referendum.

Their message has been clear. People value public services; they want more investment not more cuts; they reject privatisation and they demand that public services remain in public hands. They also want a new fairer more equal society.

I want to thank our members for the role they have played in this whole process, and to recognise the humour and respect with which this debate has been conducted within UNISON. I think this has been reflected in the debate across Scotland more generally.

UNISON, as Scotland’s biggest trade union, takes its responsibility to support constructive debate very seriously. We will work to continue the extra-ordinary political engagement we have seen to press our agenda to build better public services that improve the quality of all our lives and to build the just and fairer society that so many of us are calling for.

Our role now is to work with other trade unions and civic society to help bring Scotland together. We will expect that the promises of more powers made by the main parties in Better Together will be delivered. However as we stated at the beginning of the referendum campaign the real question is how new or indeed existing powers are to be used for the benefit of working people.

This work continues on 15 and 18 October when UNISON will join the STUC and Poverty Alliance conference and rally as part the Challenge Poverty Week, when trade union members from across Scotland are coming together to say it’s now time to create a just and fairer Scotland.

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