The people of Scotland should be given the “greatest possible choice” over the country’s future if there is a second independence referendum, the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) has said.
General secretary Roz Foyer said if there is to be another vote it must not be a “simple binary choice” between independence and staying in the union.
She made the call as she addressed the STUC annual congress, which is taking place online because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ms Foyer used her speech to criticise Westminster’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, accusing the UK Government of having “flip-flopped on public safety, placing both lives and livelihoods in danger”.
She also criticised the Scottish Government for being “unable to stop a public health scandal in our care services”.
Calling for a “people’s recovery” from the pandemic, Ms Foyer said a more “equal and sustainable economy” could be created in its aftermath.
She said: “We have much to do, and huge challenges to face, but in our darkest moments let’s remember that from the ashes of the Second World War the British working classes built the NHS, decent housing and a welfare state that benefited and raised living standards for millions.
“And similarly, from the ashes of this pandemic, we can grow the roses of a more equal and sustainable economy, where all workers can get a fairer share of our nation’s wealth.”
She said the trade union movement is “fighting hard for a better future for our kids, for a fairer, more equal economy, greener industry, more high quality jobs, investment in public services and significant state interventions to build a Scotland that’s fit for the future”.
Ms Foyer she said the STUC will continue to “engage with the evolving debate on Scotland’s constitution”.
She stressed this includes the “right of the people of Scotland to determine their own constitutional path, including holding a further referendum on independence, should that be their wish”.
The STUC general secretary added: “If Brexit has taught us anything, it is that there is much more to this than a simple binary choice, the devil will be in the detail and the general council supports giving the greatest possible choice to the Scottish people, should the time come for another referendum.”
But Ms Foyer said workers “can’t afford to wait until after a referendum” for action on jobs and the economy.
“This virus has held up a mirror of truth to the state we’re in and taught us some key lessons,” shre said.
“That those countries where inequalities were the least have fared the best, in terms of being resilient and able to cope.
“That those countries that acted decisively and put safety first were the most successful at suppressing the virus and lessening negative economic impact.
“That our public services are underfunded to an unsustainable level, that bad jobs kill and that the caring economy really matters.”
For people to comply with the restrictions necessary to suppress coronavirus, she said “government must offer real support on which people can rely on and be prepared to dig deep, to rebuild our economy for the benefit of future generations”.
But she added: “Instead we’re faced with a Government in Westminster that did too little too late to save tens of thousands of jobs, that’s outsourced key public health services, that flip-flopped on public safety, placing both lives and livelihoods in danger.
“While our Government here in Scotland, for all its talk of a renewables revolution, is unwilling to stand up for jobs in BiFab and unable to stop a public health scandal in our care services.”
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