The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) has today become the first external organisation to be invited to address the Scottish National Party’s group of 56 MPs at the Westminster parliament.
The meeting followed the SNP’s strong opposition to the Tory government’s deeply regressive Trade Union Bill during its Second Reading today. SNP MPs submitted a reasoned amendment which would have denied the Bill a Second Reading but the amendment was not selected for debate. Instead SNP MPs turned out in force to speak out and vote against the Bill. If passed, the Bill will impose higher voting thresholds in strike ballots, end the ban on the use of agency workers during strikes, and introduce restrictions on picketing and protesting.
Speaking at the meeting SNP and STUC representatives agreed to work closely together as part of a progressive alliance to improve the rights of workers and to campaign against the Tory government’s Dickensian agenda of austerity and regressive welfare reforms.
Commenting Angus Robertson MP, SNP Westminster Leader said:
“We were proud to invite the STUC to be the first external organisation to address an SNP group meeting since the May election. The SNP is deeply committed to working with the STUC and individual trade unions to protect and improve the rights of working people, to make Scotland a fairer and more equal place, and to forcefully and effectively oppose the Tory government’s Dickensian agenda of austerity and regressive welfare reforms.
“The STUC and trade unions are key social partners and play a vital role in Scottish society through effective democracy, helping to ensure good employment practices which directly promote economic competitiveness, and social justice in wider society.
“The SNP are determined to stand up for social justice and progressive policies in this parliament for the whole of the UK. We will do everything we can to oppose the Tory’s Trade Union Bill and to ensure that the role of trade unions is not diminished. We value our relationship with the STUC and look forward to continuing to work in partnership to make Scotland a fairer and more equal place for everyone.”
Grahame Smith, General Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) said:
“Our attendance at the SNP Group tonight and the early opportunity I had to address SNP MPs, confirms the view of the STUC that our already excellent relationship will develop further in the weeks and months to come.
“We share clear priorities, including the mission to ensure that the Scotland Bill fully reflects the transfer of powers included in the report of the Smith Commission and promised prior to the referendum.
“The SNP group left me in no doubt as to the strength of their opposition to the Trade Union Bill and that we agree that it is vital to unite in opposing the UK Government’s austerity agenda.
“Our 56 SNP MPs form a vital part of the opposition at Westminster and it is imperative that the fullest possible co-operation between parties is sought and achieved in holding the Government to account.”
Notes for editors:
The text of the SNP amendment was as follows:
“That this House declines to give the Trade Union Bill a Second Reading as the bill threatens the rights of citizens in the UK to pursue industrial disputes by legitimate means, fails to adhere to article 5 of the Council of Europe Social Charter, the right to organise, article 6 of the Social Charter, the right to bargain collectively, and international Labour Organisation conventions 87 and 98, therefore placing unreasonable restrictions on the rights of trade unions and their members, nor provides full employment protection from the first day of employment.”