Trade unionism is not about creating even more divisions based on nationality

Trade unions are about solidarity. The very name of our movement is symbolic of the fact that we are bound together by ties that go beyond nationality or location.

By John-Paul McHugh, Scottish officer at Community Trade Union

Trade unions are about solidarity. The very name of our movement is symbolic of the fact that we are bound together by ties that go beyond nationality or location.

We stand together with colleagues across the UK, campaigning as much for fairness in Scotland as we do in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

At a time of economic turmoil across the world now more than ever we need to stand together in the pursuit of social justice. Putting up barriers between workers in the rest of the UK makes no sense at all.

And workers across the whole of UK stand united in solidarity. Whether we are from Glasgow, Grimsby or Glamorgan, we know that by working together we can achieve so much more than we could apart.

Where is the social justice argument in abandoning colleagues south of the Border?

I am proud that Community members from across the UK have come together to say with a clear voice that we are better together and will campaign against Alex Salmond’s plan to break up the United Kingdom.

Working together with trade unionists across the UK we have achieved so much. From the National Minimum Wage, which the SNP failed to support, to health and safety legislation, pooling our resources across the UK has resulted in significant improvements for our workers.

Things are far from perfect, but the suggestion that workplace rights would be infinitely better in a separate Scotland is risible.

The complete failure of the SNP to support the Scottish steel industry when contracts were being handed out for the Forth Road Bridge replacement was a taste of what life would be like in a separate Scotland.

The SNP’s economic case for breaking up Britain appears to rest on cutting corporation tax for big business. When companies like Starbucks, Vodafone, Apple, Google and npower stand accused of avoiding tax on a grand scale, Alex Salmond wants to reduce their burden even further.

We are promised Scandinavian style public services and investment but Irish style levels of low taxation. It simply doesn’t stack up.

One area of significant concern to steel workers in Scotland is the impact of separation on pensions. Campaigners fought long and hard to establish the Pensions Protection Fund (PPF), the UK wide scheme which supports workers whose pension schemes go bust. What will happen to this if Scotland breaks away?

The failure of the SNP to provide any credible assurances on the PPF’s future is indicative of the flimsiness of their case.

Working together and pooling our resources is what the trade union movement, and Community in particular, is all about. Creating divisions on the basis of nationality is contrary to our whole world vision. We are so much stronger and better together as part of the UK.

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