By Richie Venton, TUFI Steering Group
A potentially very important arm of the campaign for Scottish independence is under construction and growing: Trade Unionists for Independence (TUFI).
Initiated by a small group of trade unionists in Edinburgh a few months ago, TUFI has recently held two large, vibrant West of Scotland meetings, with further plans for meetings in Dundee and Aberdeen.
The West of Scotland meetings attracted union reps, conveners, national committee members, full-time officials and other active members from a wide range of unions, including EIS, UNISON, PCS, UNITE, FBU, NUJ, USDAW, CWU and the STUC Youth Committee.
It debated and adopted a Statement of Aims [see extracts below] which gives a clear purpose and perspective to the campaign, promoting pro-trade union arguments for a Yes vote, linking immediate issues that workers are concerned about to the opportunity to transform their lives by offloading the burden of undemocratic Westminster rule and ruin.
Unlike the ‘business wing’ of the pro-independence movement, which is minuscule in any case, TUFI unashamedly seeks to stand up for the working-class majority, with aims rooted in numerous trade union conference policies.
And it is based on the central notion that the trade union movement needs to shape the agenda here and now on the type of Scotland we want after 2014, both in order to win workers to a Yes vote and to win radical and permanent change in favour of workers, their families and communities after winning a vote for independence.
The aims agreed mean we can campaign inside each trade union, STUC conference and at workplace level to convince different sections of workers that an independent Scotland could be the first step on the road to sweeping changes to their material well-being.
Right now hundreds of thousands of workers are either unsure or against independence. They will not be convinced by merely repeating the mantra ‘vote Yes’.
The concrete aims of TUFI are powerful weapons to persuade, for instance, low paid workers of the opportunity to win a decent living wage through independence; public sector workers on reversal of privatisation and cuts; active union members on a vast enhancement of trade union and workplace rights (an issue hardly even mentioned in the referendum debate so far).
As the TUFI Statement of Aims rightly concludes: “TUFI appeals to workers and trade unions to join us in campaigning for a Yes vote in order to build a socially and economically just Scotland, where the interests of the working class millions displace the greed of the multinationals and millionaires.”
TUFI Statement of Aims (extracts)
TUFI is open to progressive trade unionists from all political parties and those affiliated to none, with the purpose of not just exchanging one set of flags and emblems for another, but of winning Scottish independence as a means of achieving a fundamental and irreversible redistribution of power and wealth in favour of working people, their families and communities.
TUFI is an integral part of the broader Yes campaign, but with its own distinctive purpose, based on the best principles of trade unionism, including social justice, equality, wealth redistribution and internationalism.
TUFI is fighting for a Yes vote so the Scottish working-class majority population then has the opportunity to elect a government with the powers and political will to transform their lives, through immediate measures such as:
• Abolition of all anti-union laws, and their replacement with a charter of workers’ rights that sets the very highest standards in the whole of Europe.
• A decent level of national minimum living wage for all workers, trainees and apprentices from 16 onwards, with equal pay for women and abolition of age discrimination.
• Reversal of the assault on benefits and the demonisation of the sick, disabled and unemployed, with a living income guaranteed to all those unable to work.
• Reversal of all privatisation, public sector cuts and attacks on pensions, with a living income state pension and voluntary retirement for all at 60.
• Jobs for all - investment in clean, green energy, housing, integrated public transport.
• Democratic public ownership of energy, construction and banking in order to eradicate fuel poverty, pollution, substandard housing and unemployment.
• Removal of all nuclear weapons, with guaranteed jobs and protection of conditions for all defence industry workers through diversification into peaceful, socially useful employment.
TUFI recognises the powers that go with independence can create the opportunity for radical and permanent change in the interests of working people, but also the need for trade unionists to set the agenda now for the type of Scotland we aim to achieve after a Yes vote in 2014.
Article courtesy of the Scottish Socialist Voice