First Minister Alex Salmond has today reaffirmed the Scottish Government’s commitment to universal benefits, describing Scotland as a “something for something society”.
Speaking to the annual STUC Congress in Perth, the First Minister said the Scottish Parliament was now being asked to reaffirm the social contract it has upheld through successive administrations since 1999, including free personal care and free access to higher education.
The First Minister said:
“In the face of the social and economic bedlam of the 1980s, there was a need, an overwhelming urgency, to establish a parliament for Scotland that could express a different concept of society – one based on a sense of public good and the common weal.
“And by and large, since 1999, the Scottish Parliament – and this is the Parliament as a whole, rather than any one party – has upheld that contract.
“Today the Scottish Parliament is being asked to reaffirm its commitment to universal public services – not a something for nothing country but a something for something society.”
The First Minister also used his address to reaffirm the Scottish Government’s joint working with Scotland’s trade unions, describing union rights as essential for “strong workplaces and a strong economy”.
He said the union movement would continue to play a “valuable and important role” in Scottish life as he gave a guarantee that the position of the trade unions was secure with his administration.
And Mr Salmond also told delegates at Perth Concert Hall that union members among Scottish Government staff would continue to have protected facility time – allowing them to carry out union business during the working day.
Mr Salmond continued:
“Trade unions are important partners for the Scottish Government and we value our relationship with them very highly indeed. Strong trade unions mean strong workplaces and a strong economy.
“For working men and women, knowing their rights are protected and that their employers will work together with their trade union makes for a more secure and in turn more productive workplace.
“That’s why we are announcing today, with the STUC, that we are committing to retaining guaranteed trade union facility time for people working in the Scottish Government. This guarantee is in contrast to a recent decision by the UK Government but it is the right thing to do.
“The place of Scotland’s trade unions is absolutely secure with this administration – and I believe the trade union movement can and will continue to play an important and valuable role in Scotland in the years to come.”