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Scottish Trades Union Congress 2023

Earlier this week, I attended the Scottish Trades Union Congress in Dundee with the SNP's Deputy Leader at Westminster, Mhairi Black MP. It was a great opportunity to hear from trade union members and representatives from across Scotland and speak about how the SNP's plans for a fairer, more equal Scotland include workers.

The Scottish Trades Union Congress is the largest annual gathering of trade unionists in Scotland. It is a chance for all those who care about fair working conditions to come together to discuss important and to hear from politicians and other speakers about the issues that affect their workplaces and communities.

Both Mhairi and I enjoyed getting around the stalls to speak with representatives from lots of different organisations from across the country.

With the cost-of-living crisis squeezing the incomes of working people, there has never been a more important time to join a trade union and stand up for workers' rights.

Trade unions have played an important role in protecting the rights of workers and improving working conditions on these islands. With nearly six million members, trade unions have been instrumental in advocating for better pay, health and safety standards, and job security.

In recent times we have witnessed a sharp increase in anti-trade union rhetoric from the Westminster Tory Government which seems hell-bent on ramming through its Anti-Strike Bill legislation.

It is crucial that trade unions are supported and protected in Scotland from these Tory attacks. The SNP is committed to ensuring that trade unions are able to continue to play their vital role in protecting the rights of workers.

That's why it was so welcome to hear from Scotland's First Minister Humza Yousaf at the Congress, where he delivered a speech pledging that the Scottish Government will not issue work notices under the new Tory anti-union laws.

The First Minister's committment has been praised by trade unions, including the Fire Brigades Union who commented that "This is a welcome and significant intervention by the First Minister. By refusing to implement this draconian new legislation, he can strike a blow against Rishi Sunak's anti-worker agenda."

The Scottish Government will do all in its powers to protect workers, but it could do so much more if it had the full powers over employment.

One of the things which was most encouraging at the Congress this week was the clarion call to devolve employment powers from Westminster to Scotland.

It speaks volumes that the traditional voice of the labour movement in Scotland firmly believes Westminster can no longer be trusted with powers over employment laws. That's because we've seen relentless and repeated attacks on workers' pay and conditions.

But there is a challenge for all political parties to now get behind the STUC's call and no-one more so than Anas Sarwar, Labour's Scotland branch office manager, who must now muster the courage to stand up to his Westminster bosses.

It's time for Labour to do the right thing for workers across Scotland by supporting the devolution of employment law instead of supporting the Tories.