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It mostly covers my work as UNISON Scotland's Head of Policy and Public Affairs although views are my own. For full coverage of UNISON Scotland's policy and campaigns please visit our web site. You can also follow me on Twitter. I hope you find this blog interesting and I would welcome your comments.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

STUC - Day 3

Transport dominated the debates this morning, but the most powerful contributions were on domestic violence. Two sisters made very moving contributions based on their own tragic experiences including UNISON's Marie Garrity. A real wake up call for everyone.

The living wage debate highlighted again the issue of low pay. The adoption of the living wage by the Scottish Government and some councils is welcome. But it needs a Living Wage Unit, on the London model, to drive this policy forward, particularly through public procurement. That is what Scottish Labour is rightly proposing.

We had a typically polished performance from the First Minister this morning. More statesmanlike, following the parcel bomb story this morning, than his usual style. He pressed many of the right buttons for the audience although still failed to grasp our concerns over the need for a balanced energy policy. He made a good contrast with NHS privatisation in England, and he is entitled to claim credit for a good record. However, he somewhat over egged the case when he claimed no PFI. The Scottish Futures Trust is developing wide scale PFI schemes in Scotland. The Hub Initiative in NHS Scotland is a straight copy of the English LIFT PFI scheme.

At lunchtime I spoke at a fringe meeting organised by the Campaign Against Climate Change. I spoke about what needs to be done to deliver on the targets in the Climate Change (S) Act. In particular on the need for a strong public duty and action on Green Workplaces. The Scottish Government failed to introduce mandatory annual reporting, weakening the duty considerably. There was a good debate on energy and manufacturing strategy issues.

Pensions was the big debate of the afternoon. Led by a motion from UNISON Scotland. This is an issue that unites the movement, particularly over the proposed pension contribution increases. Delegates described this a tax on public service workers because not one penny goes into pension increases. One delegate offered to swop his pension for the one George Osborne approved for the publicly owned bank Chief Executives.

The debate on care for the elderly highlighted today's FAI report on the Uddingston care home fire that resulted in 14 deaths. The report states that the deaths were preventable. Those who argue for less regulation should read this report carefully.

Overall this year's STUC has put a real focus on the Better Way campaign and the alternative to the Con-Dem government's cuts. My only tricky moment, as highlighted in the Herald Diary today, was being mistaken for Bob Crow! My worst nightmare realised!

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