Yesterday I chaired the launch of PCS Scotland’s referendum strategy in which we revealed to the Scottish media and the world at large the results of a significant survey of our union’s Scottish members on factors that may influence how they vote in the referendum on Scottish independence to be held on 18 September 2014.
Our Scotland, our services, our future reveals that concerns over the future of public services have more significant influence than any personal career or financial interest to our members. For public sector trade unionists, this finding is of little surprise. I myself tweeted it was a no-brainer that public sector workers support public services. The positive public sector ethos amongst public sector workers is legendary.
Again few will be astonished that the future of pensions were identified by 60% of respondents as of great influence. The UK government’s attack on public sector pensions have left a generation of public sector workers seriously worried about their future, as the historic mass strike action on 30 November 2011 demonstrated . With the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme being a UK wide scheme, its’ future is undoubtedly of interest to vast majority of PCS members in Scotland who are covered by the scheme.
Women members’ responses were more markedly concerned about the future of public services than men by a margin of 73.8% to 64.8%. This should not be crudely co-related to the polls showing women appear to be more cautious in their support for Scottish independence than men, but the differential is enough to make many sit up and notice.
Although not asked, PCS members expressing a view on their own voting intentions, and where the union should stand were broadly split three ways – for and against independence and those who wished the union to continue critical engagement with both sides. This very matter, however, will be debated in some detail at a PCS conference of Scottish branches in February 2014.
In the meantime, PCS will be seeking responses to our survey and taking the findings out to political leaders, all the main political parties, influencers and campaigners as we lay out our demands for a post-referendum Scotland in which tax justice, decent welfare, investment in public services not privatisation, fair pay, pensions and jobs and trade union rights are at the heart.
Our Scotland, our services, our future is a groundbreaking report with which I am proud to be associated.