Day 2 at the STUC started with the debate on public services. UNISON Scottish Secretary, Matt Smith opened the debate referring to the STUC Public Services Charter. That Charter sets out a radically different vision for the development of public services in the current financial crisis. A range of speakers highlighted the impact of cuts on all parts of Scotland’s public services.
South Lanarkshire TUC helpfully tabled a motion opposing the privatisation of Scottish Water. This was an opportunity for me to update Congress on the latest sharks circling around Scottish Water, including the Scottish Futures Trust and the Water Industry Commission. The Morning Star newspaper yesterday carried an article from us setting out the case for democratic control in more detail. Congress again made it clear that it’s Scotland’s water and it’s not for sale!
The afternoon session was focussed on young workers. The STUC Unions into Schools project is important in raising awareness of the role of trade unions and we heard inspiring presentations from some of the schools involved. Equally important was the debate on promoting young workers rights including apprenticeships, tips and the minimum wage.
A presentation on the Living Wage campaign also emphasised the importance of making real progress on low pay. The STUC is calling on the Scottish Government to follow the example of Glasgow City Council and Scottish Enterprise.
The final debate of the day was on energy and climate change. There is a cautious welcome to Ed Milliband’s recent recognition that the market isn’t going to deliver the necessary cuts in carbon emissions. This is reflected across Europe where municipalities are ending the privatisation of electricity facilities. The market has also failed the fuel poor. One in four Scottish households are in fuel poverty and rising fuel prices have undermined the work of fuel poverty programmes.