From 1 September 2014, every member of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) in Scotland will receive a 24 page booklet detailing answers from Scottish political parties and campaign organisations on both sides of the referendum debate to 20 key questions central to the union’s core policies.
PCS policies are firmly rooted in an economic alternative to austerity, investment in public services, and redistribution of wealth through tax justice and compassionate social security. As a trade union, PCS can never be neutral in political, economic and social discourse, but crucially we take no side on Scottish independence. Instead of a top down recommendation on how members should vote, our approach is to robustly engage and challenge all on where they stand in relation to our policies.
We take pride in our members’ active engagement in the Scottish referendum debate. As civil and public servants, they have a direct interest in the future governance and delivery of public services in Scotland – whatever the outcome. PCS has been an exemplar amongst trade unions in Scotland for ensuring full member consultation and democratic participation in our decision-making on this matter, and we should be proud of that contribution.
The key components of our engagement:
1. “Our Scotland, our services, our future” members survey found that PCS members are more concerned about the quality, accountability and provision of public services in Scotland than they are about their own career interests.
2. “How should your union campaign in the Scottish independence debate” consulted every PCS member in Scotland and our consultative conference of Scottish branches recorded 18,025 votes in favour of the union taking no side; with 5,775 in favour of campaigning for independence and no votes recorded to campaign against. The PCS informs – you decide recommendation was subsequently adopted as union policy at our annual delegate conference of all branches from Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
3. 20 questions post card pledge -14,000 postcards were distributed via Scottish branches to encourage MPs and MSPs to answer the 20 key industrial and economic policy demands. Branches are continuing to utilise this as a means to engage and organise members right up to the referendum day.
4. PCS hustings debates with speakers from Yes Scotland, Better Together, the Red Paper Collective and Radical Independence were held in Aberdeen, Cumbernauld, Dundee, East Kilbride, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness.
5. PCS informs – you decide: 20 key questions answered for PCS members” now sent to every member in Scotland with the answers received from the key campaigns and political parties on both sides of the referendum debate.
In addition to member engagement, PCS continues to meet regularly with lead Scottish Ministers, Scotland Office Ministers and Opposition leaders to seek to influence their policies and decision making on civil and public services in the post-referendum environment.
PCS is also engaged with Scottish Government officials in a Constitutional Reform Working Party reporting to Scottish Ministers on the likely requirements and shape of industrial relations in civil and public services post –referendum, including extension of the Scottish Government’s no compulsory redundancy guarantee to civil servants transferring in to the Scottish Government as a result of constitutional reform.
Whatever the outcome of the Scottish referendum on 18 September, PCS will continue to be a leading exemplar for the Scottish trade union movement in genuine lay-led member engagement. We will also continue to robustly and critically engage with Ministers and Opposition parties in order to secure and protect our members interests.
Now, as promised to members by our General Secretary and National President, “PCS informs – you decide” provides members with the answers received from the political parties and campaigns on both sides of the debate, which we hope will assist PCS members in making their vote count in the historic referendum on Scottish independence this month.