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Scottish Trades Union Congress 2020 Workers' rights and a green recovery should be central to Scotland’s Covid recovery, congress hears

A PUSH towards industrial democracy, fair work and a green recovery should be central to Scotland’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, trade unionists stressed today.  

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) heard from delegates about the importance of delivering a fresh start for Scotland through a “people’s recovery.”

Plans for an overhaul of Scotland’s economy were published by the STUC earlier this year, outlining the need for community wealth building, public ownership of utilities and an emphasis on green models in the recovery. 

STUC general secretary Roz Foyer said that the government must “be prepared to dig deep, to rebuild our economy for the benefit of future generations.

“Instead we’re faced with a government in Westminster that did too little, too late to save tens of thousands of jobs,” she said, one “that’s outsourced key public-health services and that flip-flopped on public safety, placing both lives and livelihoods in danger.

“Meanwhile our government here in Scotland, for all its talk of a renewables revolution, is unwilling to stand up for jobs in BiFab and unable to stop a public health scandal in our care services.”

Concerns about the lack of action were echoed by delegates taking part in a debate on the recovery plan. 

RMT regional organiser Jake Molloy pointed to the importance of the energy and transport sectors in creating a green recovery and called for greater moves to be made to create jobs in renewables, adding that Scotland could refit refineries and adapt existing industries to that end. 

Mr Molloy said there is currently “a lack of political will” for progress, with overseas companies profiting from Scotland’s natural resources and transport services. 

He echoed the words of Ms Foyer, saying that ownership of these industries was key – bringing returns to the public and offering security to workers.

Denise Christie of the Fire Brigades Union believed “there should be no going back to where we were before.” 

She added that the pandemic provides an opportunity to protect workers and reorganise services and industries for the common good.

Scotland should learn from the mistakes of the past, she added, and move in a more radical direction, warning that promises from politicians cannot be “empty words.” 

Ms Christie said that the trade union movement would be campaigning to ensure a new approach ahead of next year’s Holyrood election.

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