ESRC report highlights opportunities of Yes vote

The SNP has today welcomed a cross border academic report highlighting the opportunities the referendum debate presents to shape a brighter future for Scotland’s workforce.

The report by Universities Strathclyde and Oxford - Work, Employment, Skills and Training (WEST): Where next for Scotland? - finds that Scotland is a pursuing a “radically different direction to the rest of the UK” in terms of workplace relations.

Professor Patricia Findlay from The University of Strathclyde goes on to say that Scottish Government’s Working Together Review is aimed at increasing “collective bargaining, and workplace democracy” inspired by models in northern Europe.

Welcoming this report SNP MSP Christina McKelvie, who is also convenor of the SNP Parliamentary Trade Union Group, said:

“This is a first class report from universities on both sides of the border that highlights the very different paths that The Scottish Government and Westminster are pursuing in terms of workplace relations.

“As outlined in Scotland’s Future – the Scottish Government’s blueprint for an independent Scotland - we believe that introducing a package of employment measures designed to improve workplace relations will help us build a fairer Scotland. Plans to help build a brighter future for workers include employee representation and greater female participation on company boards.

“As well as this, Scotland’s Future also outlines plans to establish a Fair Work Commission to guarantee that workers in an independent Scotland will benefit from a minimum wage that rises at least in line with inflation. Over the last five years, this would have improved the earnings of the lowest paid Scots by the equivalent of £675.

“In Scotland with the referendum less than six months away we have once in a lifetime opportunity to build a fairer country.

“The ability to improve industrial relations can only be secured in the long-term with a Yes vote and independence as a No vote gives the Westminster Tory run system free reign to cutback Scotland’s block grant and roll back the gains achieved under devolution."


WEST press release:

Referendum debate sparks new thinking on workplace relations

Monday 31 March

Research conducted at the Universities of Strathclyde and Oxford has found that the referendum debate is having a significant impact on workplace and employment relations in Scotland.

In a report to be published today (March 31) by the Work, Employment, Skills and Training: Where next for Scotland? (WEST) project, the findings indicate that Scotland is taking a radically different direction to the rest of the UK as it looks to improve important employment relations policies.

The research suggests that the referendum debate has provided a valuable opportunity for stakeholders in Scotland to review and reflect on policy and shape a brighter future for the country.

Professor Patricia Findlay, of the Scottish Centre for Employment Research within the Department of Human Resource Management at the University of Strathclyde, said: "Through the independence debate, Scotland is experiencing a valuable opportunity to discuss and re-think policy about the workplace and employment relations in a way that is not happening south of the border.

"In education and training, Scotland has been diverging from England from a long time. The setting up by the Scottish Government of the Working Together Review ('the Mather Review') to explore workplace innovation, productivity, enhanced opportunities to promote collective bargaining, and workplace democracy, is a further distinctive policy development.

"Whatever the outcome of the referendum, it is clear that it will be very difficult to abandon discussion of the new models of employment relations similar to those used in Northern Europe. This is not to say that they will remain uncontested, far from it, but a return to the status quo in debates on employment relations seems unlikely."

Researchers from Strathclyde and Oxford have been engaged in the WEST project as part of the Economic and Social Research Council's 'The Future of the UK and Scotland' programme. This involved interviewing 45 senior policy makers from government, public sector agencies, education institutions, trades unions, employers, the STUC, and civil society organisations, and revealed how far the independence debate has helped focus national aspirations.

Professor Ewart Keep, ESRC Centre on Skills, Knowledge & Organisational Performance, Department of Education, University of Oxford, added:

"Almost without exception, policymakers, employers and trade unions identified high levels of youth unemployment as a key challenge currently facing Scotland. The scale of youth unemployment since the financial crisis and the shrinking proportions of young workers across public and private sector workplaces was described in strident terms - as "catastrophic", "a scandal", "unacceptable" and "risking a lost generation".

"If economic matters are likely to influence how Scottish citizens vote on constitutional change, a better informed debate regarding employment and the workplace is crucial." The findings of the report will be discussed at dissemination event, held at the University of Strathclyde on Monday 31 March. The event is being chaired by Peter Russian, Chief Executive of Investors in People Scotland and will be opened by Principal of Strathclyde, Professor Sir Jim McDonald.


WEST report