Agenda for MSP Action
The Jimmy Reid Foundation (JRF) has published its ‘Agenda for Action’ highlighting seven areas requiring the immediate attention of the newly elected Members of the Scottish Parliament. Drawing on JRF publications, independent research and events, the recommendations cover workers’ rights, human rights, developing Scotland’s ports, the fiscal settlement, and getting better data to make informed decisions to grow our overseas trade and the economy.
Professor Gregor Gall, Director of the Foundation said today “As the newly elected Scottish Parliament gets down to business with a minority SNP government, we are providing a list of seven urgent actions that should inform internal and cross party discussions. We are determined that our research makes a positive impact and is not ignored despite the uncomfortable and disturbing issues that the independent research has revealed. Policy and services must be improved in Scotland using evidence based research.”
The seven issues are:
1. The UK Trade Union Act should not be implemented in Scotland.
We call upon the Scottish Government to give a pledge that where it is the direct employer, it will not seek to enforce the new balloting mandate thresholds or the new picketing requirements; it will agree to the extension of balloting mandates; it will support measures to introduce e-balloting; and it will agree to notice of action remaining at one week. We also call upon the Scottish Government to use its influence with those public bodies which it directly funds to do the same.
2. Economic and Industrial Democracy
Currently, both Scotland and Britain are in the bottom half of the European league table for democracy at work. The Foundation does not believe the Fair Work Convention’s ‘Fair Work Framework’ will drastically change this situation because it has no statutory underpinning. The Scottish Government should adopt a strategy which gives workers the means to control their work and working lives which will then enable the economy to thrive.
3. The Fair Work Convention
The Scottish Government established the Fair Work Convention in order to engage in a limited form of social partnership with unions and employers. The Convention has published the framework document by which it hopes to facilitate this social partnership. Many legislative powers relevant to the FWF are reserved to Westminster but the Scottish Government can use its limited devolved powers to make an impact.
4. Scottish Government’s Block Grant
The Scottish Government’s block grant (BG) has been adjusted now that the fiscal settlement has been agreed to cover Scotland’s increased devolved powers from Westminster via the Scotland Act 2016. The negotiating processes for the fiscal settlement have resulted in a poor deal for Scotland and that needs to be fixed.
5. Soundly Based, Timely Statistics are Essential for Economic Growth
Two problems remain to be addressed if the Scottish Government is to increase competitiveness, tackle inequality and move onto a more balanced growth path which better withstands global economic shocks: decide if the current management of trade support agencies is likely to achieve the objectives of the Scottish Government’s economic strategy; whether the quality of the databases available, the most fundamental tool by which to judge performance, are up to the task in hand.
6. Scottish Ports
Scotland’s major ports are inadequate, outdated, and expensive. Freight traffic moving through Iceland, Ireland and Flemish ports is far greater than in Scotland despite our economic growth depending on trade expanding. The Scottish Government must act to enable our economy to benefit from direct access to international markets via advanced, low-cost ports in Scotland and related shipping services.
7. Human Rights
The Scottish Government should give effect to its high level commitments on human rights by changing the framework for respecting, protecting and fulfilling human rights. That includes establishing a Human Rights Committee at the Scottish Parliament and amending the law to enable the Scottish Human Rights Commission to take ‘test cases’.
The full document is available Agenda for Action May 2016