Fair work must be at heart of Brexit for workers

Lilian Macer
Lilian Macer

#stuc2018 Congress backed a General Council call for a range of measures to protect the Scottish economy, defend jobs and social protections under the Fair Work Framework in the run up to Brexit.

It called on the Scottish Government to make good on the First Minister’s commitment at yesterday’s STUC to promote collective bargaining to protect workers and the poorest and to ensure inequality is reduced.

Moving the motion on behalf of the General Council, UNISON Scotland Convener, Lilian Macer told delegates that we need a boost to the Scottish economy with fair work at its heart.

She warned, however, that instead of using fair work as a fundamental driver of economic development, Tory Brexit failings could lead to a serious weakening of workers’ rights.

She condemned the rising levels of poverty in Scotland, with the shameful statistic that two-thirds of all children who live in poverty are in a household where someone works. 19% of all Scottish workers work for less than the living wage.

“Never have we had a greater need for the Fair Work agenda, which puts at its heart the principles of security, respect, fulfilment, opportunity and effective voice,” said Lilian, adding that this needs to be delivered in a tangible way.

She pointed to some progress, such as the living wage in care, which unions demanded and won.

She also reminded delegates of First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon’s commitment yesterday to promote the expansion of collective bargaining as part of the Fair Work agenda and welcomed the inclusion in the National Performance Framework of measures on the living wage, skills utilisation, healthy workplaces and collective bargaining coverage.

“When it comes to government what gets measured gets done,” said Lilian. “And now one of the key measures of Scotland’s economic success will be the number of workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement and that is a positive step towards achieving fair work.”

But, warned Lilian, we need to keep pressing the Scottish Government to do better and call them out when necessary.

“We must ensure they are doing everything in their power through procurement, but also through the direct delivery of public services, to ensure fair work objectives are achieved.

“And there must be an end to blacklisting, an end to public sector procurement that allows the use of umbrella contracts and payroll companies, and an end to the outsourcing of public services.

“Workers want fair work. And with Brexit coming down the line they need fair work. So we must do everything in our power to deliver it.”

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