Friday, 16 May 2014


When it comes to reporting the stance of trade unionists on the Referendum, the picture is consciously distorted in the mainstream media by announcements of national union leaderships declaring their adherence to Better Together, or their sub-contracted messengers, United with Labour.
Under the surface, a groundswell of trade union members are concluding independence is the quickest, and maybe the only, escape route from decades of miserable poverty, job insecurity and capital's dictatorship over their working lives.

It is no accident that the leaderships of giant unions like UNITE and UNISON - plus the STUC as a whole - have remained studiously unaffiliated to either the Yes or No campaigns, whilst in fact regularly lacerating Better Together for its lack of vision and failure to persuade workers of any benefits from continued UK rule. These union leaderships know full well the ranks wouldn't tolerate affiliation to the Tory-funded, Labour-fronted BT. So their Labour affiliation has not led to them toeing the party line. And in the case of UNISON, this is despite pressure from UK general secretary Dave Prentis to accept a huge sum of members' money to affiliate to BT!

Members in revolt

Even in those unions which used UK-wide conferences to impose support for a No vote on the Scottish membership, usually with little or even no prior discussion in Scottish branches, members are refusing to obey the dictats of remote, overpaid national leaderships.
USDAW members on or just above the pathetic minimum wage have a radically different view of the glories of Britain from that of a Labour-loving general secretary on six or seven times the wage of a full-time retail worker.

ASLEF members are angry at the lack of real debate prior to their affiliation to BT, and are now insisting on debates to inform members prior to September.
GMB members are furious at the way their union leadership nailed them to the No camp, which is why Scottish officers have been desperate to disassociate from BT, clinging onto the veneer of being United with Labour instead.

CWU sham consultation 

The CWU leadership are the latest to hoist their flag for the No camp, after an exercise in sham consultation in Scotland. They didn't ignore the Scottish membership as brazenly as the likes of USDAW; they held a series of city-based debates, with members invited to hear a speaker from both sides. But as one of those who spoke in some of the debates for the Yes side, I can testify that the recent UK conference decision to call for a No vote flies in the face of the sentiment of those meetings. 

The leadership circulated scaremongering bulletins to every member, lifted straight from the book of the BT fear factory. At the meetings they consciously never took a vote after the debate. In some of the meetings there was a clear majority for Yes, judging by comments during and after, and in the rest a substantial Yes minority - all despite the leadership documents. 

But fury at the UK union leadership wielding the vote of UK conference - where over 90 per cent of delegates are from outside Scotland - has only added to the determination of CWU activists to campaign for a Yes vote.

The Scottish Prison Officers' Association debated and voted overwhelmingly for Yes. 

The RMT is about to announce the outcome of their consultative members' meetings, where several were enthusiastically for independence. 

And PCS held an extremely democratic consultation of members, where not one single branch in the whole of Scotland supported the No camp.

Escaping the Tories 

Workers face a stark choice. Continued, and indeed escalated, attacks on the working class from a Westminster government regardless of what colour rosette the Prime Minister wears after the May 2015 General election. Or kicking the door open to radical redistribution of wealth and power towards the working class through Scottish self-government, not by relying on the pro-big business SNP, but by fighting and organising to shape Scotland into a socialist society.

The latest polls are reason enough to vote to escape Westminster, with the Tories ahead of Labour and UKIP leapfrogging the LibDems. But even if Labour defied most predictions and won in 2015, what future do they offer workers?

Labour prepared the path for Cameron

We can't afford to forget 13 years of Labour in government preceded the current Etonian butchers, and acted as John the Baptist preparing for the arrival of Christ. Labour initiated the vicious Workfare schemes and benefits sanctions now carried out with the zeal of maniacs by the Coalition, driving 70,000 people a month into destitution. And worse is to come, with threats of daily visits to the JobCentre, compulsory work for no wages - all of which not only condemns the unemployed to pauperism, but helps drive down the wages of those in jobs. And Labour has promised to be tough on benefits too!

Labour retained Thatcher's anti-union laws, now being added to by the Coalition, with plans to effectively outlaw public sector strikes. Westminster are the ones to ban solidarity action between workers - not some bogus splitting of the working class through Scottish independence.

Labour jokers

When Ed Miliband and Gordon Brown promise 'the best of both worlds', with a 'strong Scottish parliament and the benefits of sharing resources across the regions within the UK', with tantalizing promises of only one Xmas until a Labour government that will usher in social justice, I don't know if they're standup comedians or downright stupid, or just lying.

Social justice in the UK after 13 years of Labour in office means the most regionally unequal state in the whole of Europe. As even Coalition LibDem lapdog Vince Cable admits, the City of London "sucks the life out of the rest of the country".
Since the massive recession, London has had twice the growth rates of any other part of the UK, and whilst 284,000 jobs were lost across the UK from 2007-12, 267,000 jobs were created in London.
In Scotland today, the 'best of both worlds' means the richest tenth of the population enjoy 900 times (yes, nine hundred) as much wealth as the poorest tenth of Scots.

Organise to shape Scotland

Independence is a sure way to escape Tory dictatorship, which is a real and present threat up until 2020 or beyond if we remain chained to Westminster.

But that is not to delude workers that a land of milk and honey automatically follows a Yes vote. The wealth is there aplenty in Scotland, but it depends entirely on who owns and controls it.
The SSP wants independence as a means to very desirable ends. 

To banish poverty pay with a decent level of legally enforced national minimum wage - at least £9 an hour in today's figures. 

To end the nightmare of Workfare and benefit sanctions, with massive job creation in housing, green energy, public services - plus a caring welfare system for the young, elderly, sick or disabled, funded by taxation of the rich and big business. 

To scrap the anti union laws and enshrine the right to work, the right to strike, the right to take solidarity action in the constitution. 

To demand widespread democratic public ownership of the banks, energy, transport, construction, and major industries - with elected, accountable workers' representatives making up the majority on boards of management.


These steps towards a socialist Scotland would vastly enhance the lives of the working class majority in Scotland, but also enhance the fighting spirits and chances of similar transformation being fought for by workers in neighbouring countries. 

Workers and their unions should join the fight to shape such a socialist future.
Independence, socialism and international solidarity should be the watchwords of the trade union movement - not surrender to the dictatorship of capital and its various political mouthpieces.

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