Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Our Future Free from Racism

2014 has been a great year for Scotland, and one where we have celebrated and embraced diversity. Over the summer 71 teams from 53 members of the Commonwealth came together in Glasgow for the best ever Commonwealth Games, which saw sports successes alongside cultural celebrations.

It is quite right that Glasgow, where we made the pioneering decision to grant Nelson Mandela the Freedom of the City and James McCune Smith studied at the University of Glasgow, who was the first African American to receive a university medical degree, celebrated diversity at the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games. We all came together for that anthem of universal brotherhood – Freedom Come All Ye, as sung by the South African singer Pumeza.

As people embrace diversity, it is disappointing to hear the hostile political rhetoric coming from certain political parties. There has been the terrible spectre of the ‘Go Home’ vans and the use of dangerous and inflamatory language from senior politicians such as ‘swamped’ and ‘inundated’ to describe immigration.

The two Westminster parties are fighting each other to out-UKIP UKIP. Politicians of all political persuasion have a responsibility to ensure that they don’t succumb to the temptation of populism for cheap political gain.

I am the proud son of immigrants, and am pleased that the Government I am part of and the party I represent believes that migrants from across the world have made outstanding contributions to Scotland and will always be welcome to our country.

It is vital that we all stand united in defiance of racism, and the St. Andrew’s Day rally is an integral part of this country’s anti-racism effort. I would like to say to all the elements who wish to divide us and cause hatred – you will never be welcome to Scotland, not now, not ever. No Pasaran.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Our Future Free from Racism? International Students: milked like cows, treated like criminals

International students bring in tens of billions annually to the UK economy. They generate over 130,000 jobs. They are quite literally a lifeline to the further and higher education sector in Scotland the UK. If every international student were to pack up and leave, not only would colleges and universities be facing an unprecedented crisis, but the economy more generally would take an enormous blow.

You’d think, given how much the Tories tell us about balancing the books, that they’d be bending over backwards to make this country attractive and welcoming to international students. But something else is at play.

Once here, paying tens of thousands in fees, international students are treated like criminals. They’re prevented from working, they’re forced to register with the police, they’re subjected to racism and abuse, and – unless they’re rich enough – they’re kicked out once they finish studying.

To make matters worse, this Government’s reckless obsession with the private sector has put thousands of international students in jeapardy. Letting private colleges run rampant – at public expense – has brought a spotlight onto what’s called Highly Trusted Status – an institution’s ability to recruit students from outside the EU. When colleges and universities have this removed, as London Met famously did a few short years ago and dozens more did earlier this year, the students are told to get out. They pay the price for this Government’s ideology and their institutions failing.

But this makes no sense, does it? This Government’s back-of-a-fag-packet immigration policy is built, at best, on mistrust, at worst on outright xenophobia and racism. UK ministers focus more on pandering to UKIP than any objective approach to society’s needs. They’ve promised, indefensibly, to cut immigration to below 100,000, and international students are baring a huge portion of the brunt for that.

But immigrants, and international students, bring enormous value to our society – not just financially, but culturally and socially. It is in our interests – but even if it wasn’t, a country that’s colonised half the world hardly has the right to now tell people they’re not welcome here.

Our colleges and universities have a massive role to play in lobbying and arguing for an approach to international students based on fairness and tolerance, and it’s the student and labour movement that will make them do that.

Gordon Maloney
President of NUS Scotland

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Our Future Free From Racism

“Our Future Free from Racism” - I’m only slightly embarrassed to confess that in recent months I seem to have adopted Twitter as my new home from home. When I recently posted - I mean 'tweeted'- about the St Andrew's Day March and Rally on November 29th one of my followers, based in the USA, replied with the following (what seemed to me at least) rather flippant statement: “The day racism ends is the day the right-handers start killing the left-handers. Or vice versa.” I admit I am still not entirely sure what he meant by this less than 140 character riddle but I refuse to believe that our future cannot be free of racism. To believe otherwise would be fatalism and cynicism personified, as well as a crime against humanity. But, to make this future a reality we do need to be vigilant and challenge racism wherever and whenever we see it – whether in the street, at our workplaces, in football grounds, on the pages of newspapers or in Parliament. The author Brian Niro (2003:1), in his book Race, argued that this concept and idea was a monster. He went on to say that “Race… is a monster because of the manner in which it has been employed for the justification of a systematic oppression and for the wholesale murder of huge populations.” And indeed, from the slave trade to the Nazi death camps, this notion of ‘race’ has been employed in the most murderous of ways. And yet it is still not consigned to the vaults of a shameful history. From the deportation of Roma in France and Italy, to the ‘everyday’ racism captured on mobile phones on public transport, we have a duty to stand-up and make ourselves heard, as citizens of a world that can be free of racism. We need to say loudly, and with purpose and intent, "not in my name".

Colin Clark
Professor of Sociology and Social Policy
University of West of Scotland &
Board Member of CRER

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Our Future Free from Racism

Last year I wrote in support of the St Andrew's day March and Rally, looking ahead to a landmark year for Scotland and for Glasgow in particular.

Both the independence referendum and the Commonwealth Games were rare opportunities for Scotland to present its values and its hopes for the future to the wider world.

Now, as Scotland’s year in the international spotlight draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on what lessons we can take from these events, and how we work towards a Scotland free from racism.

The Games were first and foremost a spectacle of sport, with the efforts and talent of the athletes front and centre. But it also offered us the chance to show ourselves as a welcoming and inclusive nation that we are and I was particularly proud of the Pride House initiative, building links with human rights activists across the Commonwealth.

The referendum campaign opened up public debate in Scotland like nothing seen before, and people really have been exploring what kind of country they want to live in. Underpinning this were questions about what it meant to be Scottish, and I think it is a testament to everyone involved that this was overwhelmingly framed in a positive and inclusive way, not along narrow lines of ethnicity or place of birth.  

Though it has been such an extraordinary year, we should not be complacent about the direction of politics. Scotland is far from free of racism, and we must address the big challenges we face. The xenophobic UKIP have just elected their first MP, following their win in this year’s European elections. The rise of right wing and extremist parties across Europe and closer to home is something that we have a responsibility to take on, and Greens will never let UKIP’s ugly brand of politics go un-challenged.

Patrick Harvie
Co-Convener of the Scottish Green Party

Monday, 17 November 2014

Our Future Free From Racism?

Launching the findings of our Scottish Government funded inquiry into Being Jewish in Scotland, we said,  “If, twenty years from now, a future Scottish Government were to commission a future SCoJeC to conduct a similar study, we would hope to be able to report a drop in levels of intolerance, a greater sense of mutual understanding between Jewish and non-Jewish people.” Fourteen months on, sadly, the signs are not encouraging.

Then, despite some reports of ignorance, ill-will, and blatant antisemitism, most people’s experience was largely positive. But the recent dramatic upsurge in antisemitism has had an effect – more than 50 incidents were reported between July and September 2014 in comparison to 14 in the whole of 2013. Increasingly, people tell us that the extent to which they, as Jews, are held responsible, targeted, and even demonised for the actions of the State of Israel – whatever their personal views on the Middle East – has left them worried, depressed, and unsafe. Several have said they would no longer wear a kippah or Star of David in the street, feel forced to hide their Jewish identity in the face of hostility, and no longer feel welcome in Scotland. Most tellingly, the person who had previously told us that “Scotland is a darn good place to be a Jew”, now writes, "Feel alienated and no longer Scottish first, then Jewish. Feel Jewish only. Have to be very guarded when speaking to people..… My son asked on Friday evening if we could leave Scotland.”

A Scotland that is free from racism because it has made minorities unwelcome would not be worthy of celebration. The First Minister reassures us that “we will not tolerate any form of racial or religious prejudice”, and One Scotland envisages a country in which “individuals and minority groups feel valued”, but sadly that’s not our experience – it remains an aspiration, not a fact.

Leah Granat
Research and Publications Officer, 
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Our Future Free From Racism

We have learnt a lot over the past year about Scotland and the people who make this country great. In looking to our future, we have explored our shared past, discussed our common values, and celebrated our differences. For the overwhelming majority the debate was respectful and mature.

But on occasion there was prejudice and intolerance. That is damaging to us all and there is no place for it in modern Scotland.

Since last year’s rally, we have lost a giant in the global fight against racism with the passing of Nelson Mandela. The circumstances in which he was fighting prejudice and intolerance may have been hugely different, but a belief in the power of education to change the future transcends all.

The anti-apartheid icon said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” I could not agree more; because from the poorest of countries to the richest of nations, education is the key to moving forward in any society.  

I said that the debate on our constitutional future was respectful and mature. I was proud that nowhere was this better demonstrated than when I spoke to young people. Extending the voting franchise to 16 and 17 year olds was seen as a risk by some but Scotland’s young people proved their critics wrong.

That is why I have no doubt that we will build a truly liberal, open, welcoming Scotland. A Scotland where individuals are judged on their character, not their colour; on their person, not our prejudice. A country which shows no tolerance to narrow-mindedness and where equality stands front and centre.

With the eyes of the world on us, people across Scotland have shown that they want substantial and meaningful change which is bold and ambitious. I say to those joining the rally today that we need to be as bold and as ambitious in our vision for a future free from racism. From the young people I met during the referendum campaign, that future is in good hands.

Willie Rennie
Leader, Scottish Liberal Democrats

Monday, 10 November 2014

Our Future Free From Racism

2014 has been an amazing year for everyone living in Scotland – the passion and excitement of the Commonwealth Games gripped everyone and resulted in a record tally of medals for Scots. Glasgow, as the Games hosts excelled itself providing a safe, welcoming and friendly venue, and the international stance taken on equality – most notably on LGBT rights – set the tone for all future Games. A Game changer indeed!

And the mass participation in the referendum did Scotland proud -even if you didn’t agree with the result no-one could say that Scots approached their future half-heartedly.

Unfortunately not everyone in Scotland seems to share the vision of an open, equal, and fair Scotland. Last year nearly 5,000 racial incidents were reported to Police in Scotland. That’s 5,000 people, who for one reason or another took it upon themselves to abuse, frighten or harm their fellow countrymen and women, simply because they come from a different heritage. Sadly, most people recognise that the 5,000 reported incidents are only a fraction of the true extent of racism in Scotland – many more incidents are likely to have gone unreported.

Scotland has much to be proud of, but the continued presence of racism on our streets, is also a source of national shame. The true legacy of the Games should be a country that’s free from discrimination and bigotry. And just like we all stood up to support Scotland at the Games we should all stand together to defeat racism in all its forms.

Racism isn’t an issue that you can be neutral about. 

Alistair Pringle
Scotland Director
Equality and Human Rights Commission

Friday, 7 November 2014

Our Future Free from Racism

This has been a momentous year for Scotland. The referendum, the Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup – the eyes of the world have been on us like never before.

I never doubted that as a people we would rise to this challenge; that we would do Scotland proud.
And so it has proved. Last year I wrote that the Commonwealth Games would be a key demonstration of the value of progress and I think it’s fair to say that they were the most stirring success and a potent reminder of sport’s power to unite.

These truly were the friendly games – perhaps the friendliest – and Glasgow was abuzz for the duration
Every country was warmly welcomed, every competitor respected. Around the world, people were treated to a fun, inclusive and tolerant Games.

This image will have been viewed around the globe and its power should not be under-estimated.

The challenge is now to build on this; to promote our shared vision of a future free from racism.
This won’t be easy, but I am up for the fight and it’s clear the STUC is too.

And quite frankly, the message is clear - whether prompted by skin colour, religion or nationality, discrimination is completely unacceptable in modern Scotland.

Yet, while we’ve come far, Scotland’s not there yet. Simply put, we cannot be complacent and we mustn’t ease up.

We still, to our collective shame, have pockets of intolerance here in Scotland and we can’t shy away from this or try to sweep it under the carpet.
That’s why it is so important that rallies like this continue to take place and I am extremely proud to offer this longstanding event my wholehearted support. 

Ruth Davidson
Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party

Friday, 17 October 2014

Decent Work, Dignified Lives: Grahame Smith's conference speech

A warm welcome to today's conference.

I am delighted that you are here today, over 200 people from Scotlands trade unions, voluntary sector organisations, NGOs, faith organisations, from academia and from government and other political institutions.

Todays conference is, of course, being held at a remarkable time in Scotlands history; less than a month since the referendum.

While we are still trying to assess the short, medium and longer term implications of the referendum for all of us and the organisations we represent, the one thing that can be said with complete certainty is that the referendum was a triumph for democracy, and something of which the country can be proud.

The phenomenal turnout on the day came on the back of months of discussion and debate in workplaces, in communities and within families.

There was a thirst for information and engagement the like of which I have not previously witnessed.

And I am immensely proud of the role the STUC and the trade union movement in Scotland played through our ‘A Just Scotland’ initiative in responding to that demand.

The long and largely - civilised campaign resulted in a startling reinvigoration of Scottish politics.

The priority now is to ensure that a political culture, in the process of being radically transformed, starts to spawn new and effective policy solutions to Scotlands deeply embedded economic and social problems.

So the purpose of todays conference is:

To provide a space where new and effective policy interventions to tackle inequality can start to be debated and developed;

To enhance our thinking about what package of new powers might best increase the capacity of the Scottish parliament and government to deliver better outcomes for our economy and society; and to

To be constructively provocative!

The referendum debate was an enriching, empowering experience for the country as a whole, but frankly speaking - too much ‘debate(if i can call it that) during the campaign was either side playing to its own echo chamber.

Todays conference has been expressly designed to challenge preconceptions and stimulate original thought.

The excellent programme of speakers in the plenary sessions, in the workshops and in the closing panel session, was not designed to flatter the prejudices of the audience!

This will become clear throughout the day. I expect this approach to both provoke robust debate and lead to better outcomes.

Economic context

The economic context in which we are having this debate remains challenging to say the least.

Scotlands recovery from the financial crisis, the 2008/09 recession and the prolonged period of stagnation which followed, continues to be tortuously slow.

Although headline growth and employment figures suggest the recovery has gained momentum many of you here today will be aware of the reality which lies behind often misleading headline statistics:

The unprecedented collapse of real wages since 2009;

The stubbornly high levels of youth unemployment;

The historically high levels of underemployment;

The failure of full-time jobs to grow with the recovery of headline employment;

The rise of low wage, low hours 'forced' self-employment; and

The increasingly widespread use of zero hour and other forms of insecure employment contracts.

Scotland might be generating new jobs but many are low quality too many Scottish citizens, in and out of work, are not sharing in the recovery.

This is hardly surprising when the UK coalition government embarked on a programme of austerity manifestly designed to undermine the living standards and security of a substantial proportion of the population including societys most vulnerable.

In the face of a government aggressively asserting the opposite, the STUC argued in 2010 that austerity was avoidable, unnecessary and regressive and so it has turned out.

The bedroom tax, real terms cuts in benefits and wages, deep job cuts for those providing the essential public services on which the poorest rely mosti could go on.

And isnt it revealing that the FT reported only yesterday that UK tax revenues particularly from income tax - are coming in way below OBR forecast. The new model the coalition is trying so hard to embed is simply unsustainable.

If a better and fairer Scotland is to emerge at the end of the process of constitutional change that is currently focusing on enhanced devolution, a new model of economic and social development will have to evolve and quickly.

Whilst macroeconomic issues such as currency and fiscal sustainability dominated the referendum campaign, it was surprising how little economic development issues featured - dominant orthodoxy was generally not challenged by either side of the debate.

The Scottish government’s lengthy papers on re-industrialisation and economic policy choices are helpful as far as they go.

But nothing like a distinct model of Scottish economic development ever looked like emerging from the referendum debate.

In that context I'm very much looking forward to Professor Williams' presentation this morning that will point the way towards a new foundational economyapproach for Scotland. 

Policy solutions such as basic income, hitherto regarded as too radical or controversial, must be properly assessed; which Frances Coppola’s contribution this afternoon will undoubtedly help us do.

Despite the best efforts of the STUC and others in this room, some of the factors which exert a profound influence on the shape and nature of Scotlands development were almost completely absent from the referendum debate or covered in ways that were hardly serious.

These include:

How currently deeply ingrained asymmetries of economic power might be rebalanced through extending collective bargaining underpinned by enhanced trade union rights;

what is the purpose of tax and what quantities of revenue must be generated to support a better and fairer society?

And how should the financial sector be structured and regulated?

We were constantly told that tackling inequality was a priority but the policies discussed during the campaign fell far short of a serious, coherent policy programme.

The policy interventions required to tackle inequality are many and varied

But let us be under no illusion that a central plank of any strategy to tackle inequality is the presence in the workplace of strong, and effective free trade unions.

It is no coincidence that the decline in real wages as a share of our national income, the growth in zero hour contacts and forced self employment and other forms of insecure work have  occurred at the same time as unions have been under attack  politically  and industrially.

And the power imbalance we see in our economy will not be reversed until the legitimate role of unions in the workplace and in wider society is recognised and an environment exists where unions can function effectively and responsibly in the interests of working people, their families, and wider society.

The Working Together review

Earlier this year, at the suggestion of the STUC, the Scottish government established the working together review chaired by Jim Mather.

This review is potentially the most important piece of work I've been involved in in my near 30 years at the STUC and 35 years as an active trade unionist.

It is a piece of work that stands in sharp contrast to the Carr review which was launched by the UK government in the wake of the Ineos dispute to prepare the ground for legislation limiting the right to strike in key utilities and public services depending on the outcome of the 2015 UK general election.

In August, in the week that the Carr review bit the dust because neither unions nor employers provided it with evidence and Ministers undermined it by making statements prejudging its outcome, the report of the Working Together review was published in Scotland.

The report gets behind the headlines and shines a light on what unions do at a strategic level with government; the role we play as part of civil society; what we contribute at a sectoral level; and of course the impact we have in the workplace through our workplace reps.

I would encourage you to read the report and its recommendations.

I believe that if implemented the recommendations have the potential to completely change the culture of industrial relations in Scotland, to the benefit of workers, their companies and organisations, and the Scottish economy.

Enhanced devolution

The recommendations of the working together review were set in the context of our existing devolved constitutional settlement.

Following the referendum that debate has moved on, perhaps more rapidly than many of us anticipated.

Earlier this year the STUC published proposals for enhanced devolution. 

These included:

the devolution of income tax including the ability to vary all rates and bands;

more extensive borrowing powers;

the devolution of employment services and active labour market policy;

the devolution of health and safety regulation and of employment tribunals; and

increased flexibility over immigration policy.

As part of our proposals we also made the case for radical reform of local taxation.

Of course, we published our views on enhanced devolution in March, six months before the referendum.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then and it would be odd if we did not recognise and respond to the changed and changing political context post the referendum.          

Constitutional change is about powers but it is also about purpose.

For us and for a vast number of those who voted yes and no, that purpose is a fairer more socially just Scotland.

To date, the focus on enhanced devolution has been on fiscal and welfare powers. However, important levers are also those over wages and the labour market.

In formulating our response to the Smith Commission we are looking again at the case for the devolution of powers over employment and trade union law, including union recognition and collective bargaining and other forms of workplace democracyenabling interventions in the labour market and the creation of jobs to be matched to positive employment practice and action on wages. 

Helping shape the passion and enthusiasm which has manifested itself during and post the referendum into policy prescriptions which are relevant to Scotlands circumstances is a significant challenge.

It is important to be as ambitious as possible for the people whove suffered most over recent years. 

And its essential that the environmental challenge isnt relegated to an afterthought.

But the constraints imposed by being an open economy on the periphery of Europe cant be ignored.  

Policies must be radical but effective; progressive but coherent. A new approach must continue to engage those whove stood outside the political process for too long.

The STUC looks forward to working with the range of organisations represented in this room to make sure this happens and to take forward the thought and discussion that will take place at today's conference.

Thank you for coming today and I look forward to an interesting, challenging, provocative and ultimately productive day.  

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Decent Work, Dignified Lives - speeches and presentations

Yesterday's STUC conference Decent Work, Dignified Lives attended by 200 people from Scotland's trade unions, NGO's, civic organisations and Government was a great success with a number of fascinating and challenging presentations delivered through the course of the day.

Here's link to the presentations (will be updated in due course):

Plenary sessions

Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary speech to conference

First Minister announces creation of Fair Work Convention

A New Development Model for Scotland - Karel Williams and Sukhdev Johal, Centre for Socio-Cultural Change, Manchester University

Basic Income by Frances Coppola

Scottish Labour Market in 11 charts - Stephen Boyd, STUC


Workshop 1: Inequality in Scotland - David Bell and David Eiser, Stirling University

Workshop 2: Reindustrialisation

Graeme Roy, Senior Economic Adviser, Scottish Government

Stephen Boyd, STUC

Workshop 3: Regional Economic Development - Mike Danson, Heriot-Watt University

Workshop 4: the Living Wage

Implementing the Living Wage - Rachel McEwen, Scottish and Southern Energy

Living Wage: how it is calculated and what difference it makes - Jeanette Findlay, University of Glasgow

Further Reading

The End of the Experiment: from competition to the Foundational Economy, Williams, Johal et al, 2014

The Foundational Economy: Rethinking Industrial Policy, Bowman, Froud, Johal and Williams

How to Build a Fairer City, Johal, Williams, Salento, Engelen

British Industrial Policy remains plagued by the antidote fallacy, Williams

Three posts on Basic Income, Frances Coppola

Pieria - Basic Income

Inequality in Scotland: trends, drivers and implications for the independence debate, Bell and Eiser

Constitutional Change and Inequality in Scotland, Comerford and Eiser

Reindustrialising Scotland, Scottish Government

Monday, 13 October 2014

Decent Work Dignified Lives: But what do we mean by decent work?

On the 18th October the STUC is organising a March and Rally in Glasgow under the strap line ‘Decent Work, Dignified Lives: Scotland needs a Pay Rise’ which adds to a national day of action across the UK. Coming as it does in ‘challenge poverty week’ a key message coming out of this march is around the need to raise pay and benefit levels and ensure a good level of income for people in Scotland.

However, we haven’t simply called our march ‘Scotland needs a Pay Rise’ instead we have talked about the need for ‘Decent Work’. This term isn’t simply a nice catch phrase, it speaks to a much wider concept that incorporates, but goes beyond, rates of pay and looks instead more widely at social justice issues and how the labour market functions.

‘Decent Work’ is a meaningful term that is used in international treaties and is underpinned by concepts developed by the UN and International Labour Organisation to improve workers lives and the functioning of the global economy and contributes to the fight to eradicate poverty.

The International Labour Organisation describes ‘Decent Work’ in the following way:

“Decent work sums up the aspirations of people in their working lives. It involves opportunities for work that is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom for people to express their concerns, organize and participate in the decisions that affect their lives and equality of opportunity and treatment for all women and men.”

In this way Decent Work is not simply work that pays enough for people to escape poverty but is work which is safe, which is regular and can be relied upon, thus removing the stress of imminent job loss or irregular hours. It is work that offers development and training opportunities, where workers can organise and where workplace democracy exists in a meaningful way, allowing workers a degree of autonomy and control around decisions that affect their every day working lives.

The concept of decent work underpins the Millennium Development Goals particularly MDG1: “Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger”. In the past much of the work and the focus in this area has been directed at the extreme abuse and hardship that we see in the developing world, however, with attention turning to the Post-2015 Development Agenda there is a concerted effort to place ‘Decent Work’ front and centre in the drive to eradicate extreme poverty, but also to take a broader view of where the ‘Decent Work’ agenda applies, including within more developed economies.

It is clear that much could be done to improve the UK economy and the way the labour market functions. Across our economy we have seen a number of worrying developments: growth in insecure work, including zero hours contracts, out-sourcing, and an increase in agency work; wages for the lowest paid either falling or stagnating, while wages at the top of the income spectrum continue to grow; enforcement around the minimum wage practically non-existent; enforcement of health and safety rules increasingly under-threat; and anti-trade union laws designed to restrict activity and limit workplace democracy and the coverage of collective bargaining agreements.

Many of these issues existed within our economy before the global crisis of 2008 and whilst this crisis and subsequent austerity pursued with vigour by the UK Government have exacerbated the inequalities in our labour market, and increased the plight of working people, and those struggling to find work, many of the building blocks for an economy focused on low road economic outcomes rather than high road ‘Decent Work’ objectives have been in place for some time.

The two graphs below give some idea of how workers were fairing in our economy even before the economic crash, the first showing wages as a proportion of GDP from 1955 to 2008 and the second showing the growth in weekly earnings for workers at different points of the income distribution scale from 1970 to 2010. Taken together these graphs paint a worrying picture of how our economy functions, and give some idea of how we find ourselves in a situation where workers are turning to ‘pay day loan’ companies or foodbanks, and why even if we do begin to see the economy recover, things need to change for workers to benefit.

GB weekly earnings, full-time employees, constant 2009 prices, controlled for RPI inflation, £ per week

Source Resolution Foundation analysis, ONS, ASHE, indexed using RPI

The STUC’s work on the referendum, ‘A just Scotland,’ helped put issues of social justice front and centre in the debate about the sort of Scotland that we want to see. For us, this debate was never going to end with the casting of votes on the 18th September, but rather remains a rallying point for all on the left and a challenge to kept working and striving towards the sort of country where ‘Decent Work’ for all is a reality. Indeed we are running a major conference on the 15 October which will look at issues of how our economy functions and will pick up on ideas embedded within the ‘Decent Work’ agenda.

The ‘Decent Work, Dignified Lives’ march on the 18th October is a focal point for all those who want to create a Just Scotland, tackle poverty and put ‘Decent Work’ at the heart of the political agenda. More information on attending the march can be found here.

Helen Martin