Trade Unionists for Independence going from strength to strength

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By Richie Venton, Trade Unionists For Independence (TUFI) steering group   

Support for the aims of Trade Unionists for Independence (TUFI) is gathering pace. At its recent AGM, the civil service union in Cumbernauld Taxes voted for a motion written and proposed by SSP members in TUFI.

By Richie Venton, Trade Unionists For Independence (TUFI) steering group   

Support for the aims of Trade Unionists for Independence (TUFI) is gathering pace. At its recent AGM, the civil service union in Cumbernauld Taxes voted for a motion written and proposed by SSP members in TUFI.

The motion is scathing about the prospects under continued Westminster rule and calls on the PCS union nationally to ensure input to the debates from those who see independence as a means to transform workers’ lives through measures such as scrapping the anti-union laws; guaranteeing a decent living wage for all over 16; reversal of all privatisation, and cuts to benefits and pubic services; job creation through taxation of the rich and big business; scrapping Trident, with guaranteed jobs for all defence industry worker through diversification; extension of democratic public ownership to help establish a poverty-free, clean, green, egalitarian Scotland.

Historic

Over 250 PCS union members voted for it, with only single figures opposed. A similar motion has been submitted for debate at the forthcoming STUC Congress. TUFI members in all unions are arguing for support for it. At its members’ AGM, the PCS union branch in East Kilbride Taxes passed a motion along the same lines as that in Cumbernauld, moved by TUFI members, and supported overwhelmingly by the over-600 members in attendance!

And in an historic breakthrough, the giant Communications Workers Union Scotland no 2 branch has voted by a 9:1 majority at its AGM in favour of independence and to affiliate to TUFI, in a motion that states:

“This Branch recognises that the referendum on Scottish Independence, due to be held in autumn 2014, will be the biggest political decision any of us has been asked to make in our lives. We recognise that under consecutive governments the gap between rich and poor has widened and that the UK remains one of the most unequal societies in the developed nations of the world.

“We further recognise that round after round of anti trade union legislation, introduced by Tory governments throughout the ’80s and ’90s remain on the statute book despite 13 years of Labour government 1997-2010. To this end we believe that the only way forward for workers in Scotland is to ensure a YES vote in the referendum and we agree to do all in our power to secure such an outcome.

To this end we pledge to:

1. Affiliate to the ‘Trade Unionists For Independence’ campaign.

2. Give our full support to Yes Scotland and take an active role within the campaign.

3. Initiate debate on the issue at future branch meetings, with invited speakers from both sides of the argument.

4. Consider placing a motion to annual conference calling for support for our position and ensuring the continued unity of postal and other workers throughout the UK and the wider world.”

TUFI is a broad, inclusive campaign embracing workers from all parties and none, with the core belief that independence is the best means of radically improving the living conditions of Scotland’s working class majority. We see independence as a means not of just changing flags and emblems, but of giving the Scottish people the democratic opportunity to wield the powers to achieve a fundamental and irreversible redistribution of power and wealth in favour of working people, their families and communities. To build a Scotland where the needs and interests of the working class millions displace the greed and dictatorship of the multinationals and millionaires.

Those like Labour MSP Neil Findlay who favour progressive taxation to redistribute wealth should stop peddling the deceitful myth that this can be best achieved under Westminster rule, perhaps with a few extra powers graciously handed down to Holyrood.

Given their real-life track records on Planet Earth, which of the Tories, Lib Dems or New Labour does Neil imagine will pursue such progressive policies? He should instead join TUFI in demanding, as our Statement of Aims includes:

“Jobs for all – including through massive public investment in clean, green energy; housing; integrated public transport – paid for by collecting the tax evaded and avoided by big business and the super-rich, and restoration of taxation levels of big business and the rich elite to their historic highest.”

Nothing short of the powers that go with independence would allow repeal of the most repressive package of anti-union laws in western Europe – initiated by Thatcher’s Tories, sustained by 13 years of New Labour governments, added to by the current Tory/Lib Dem Coalition with barely a whimper from the timid Labour opposition at Westminster.

Likewise, not even the Devo Max version of Westminster rule favoured by the likes of The Red Paper Collective would allow a Scottish government to tackle the national disgrace of poverty pay. And it’s not even a choice on offer in 2014 – just a red-herring for the ‘left’ face of Unionism. A guaranteed Living Wage for all can only be applied to the public and private sector alike with the powers won through independence.

So why would any self-respecting trade unionist vote to keep the limitations of devolution, which would mean the exclusion, for instance, of retail workers from a guaranteed Living Wage, when retail is the nation’s second-biggest employer and is notorious for its low pay?

Demonisation

Reversal of privatisation by successive Tory and Labour government; reversal of the assaults on benefits (including abolition of the Bedroom Tax) and an end to demonisation of the sick, disabled and unemployed, with a living income for all those unable to work; these and other concrete measures for an economically and socially just Scotland are way beyond the powers of a devolved semi-parliament.  They require independence, full self-government, granting the Scottish working class the right to elect a government of our own choice, ending the abomination of rule by Westminster governments that we never elected.

TUFI appeals to the STUC and individual trade unionists to seize the moment and crusade for a Yes vote so that the trade union agenda of social justice, equality and internationalism can prevail, rather than rule by Westminster governments that all and always put profit before people.

Courtesy of the Scottish Socialist Voice