The SNP will leave no stone unturned in our attempts to block the UK Government’s ill thought out and unnecessary Trade Union Bill from being applied in Scotland, as the Scottish Parliament has, once again, expressed its opposition to the Bill.
The Tory Trade Union Bill is an attack on workers as it threatens their fundamental rights to organise, bargain collectively and withdraw their labour. It’s a bill based on a worldview which the SNP Scottish Government rejects.
In Government, we have adopted an approach to industrial relations that is based on partnership. In Scotland, the number of days lost due to strikes has declined by 84% since 2007. Last year, fewer days were lost in Scotland, relative to our working population, than in any other part of the UK. The UK Government would do well to learn lessons from Scotland, and elsewhere in Europe, by pursuing an approach based on collaboration, rather than conflict.
We’ve taken every opportunity to oppose this draconian legislation. In the Scottish and UK Parliaments, we have opposed the Bill. When Nicola Sturgeon recently met with the Prime Minister she made it clear that it would be unacceptable for the UK Government to impose this Bill on Scotland - and you can read more about that meeting here. Time and again, both Nicola and I have called on the UK Government to exempt Scotland from the Bill. Not only have the UK Government been unprepared to listen, they have been completely unapologetic over the Bill’s contents.
Last year the Scottish Government submitted a request through parliamentary procedure to block the Trade Union Bill in the Scottish Parliament, and we were disappointed by the decision of the Parliamentary authorities to reject this request. A Scottish Parliament Committee will now explore the avenues that are open to the Scottish Parliament to express opposition to Westminster legislation on reserved matters.
However important, expressing opposition won’t stop the Bill in Scotland though. The one single action that will do that is to give the Scottish Parliament the powers over workplace relations. While both the Trade Union Bill and the Scotland Bill are still making their way through the Westminster system, our MPs will do everything they can to push for Scotland to be removed from the Bill.
I want to reassure every worker in Scotland that we will leave no route unexplored as we seek to block this exceptionally damaging legislation being applied in Scotland. In the truest spirit of the trade union movement, we must work together if we are to succeed in challenging the bill and its effect on Scotland.