STUC say much to be welcomed in Advisory Group on Economic Recovery Report but Scottish Government must go further.

June 22nd 2020

STUC say much to be welcomed in Advisory Group on Economic Recovery Report but Scottish Government must go further.

June 22nd 2020

The STUC today reacted to the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery’s report by stating that while there is much to be welcomed it could go further on widening public ownership and investing in a greener economy.

The report contains a wealth of recommendations for the Scottish economy and overall we welcome the focus on creating a robust and resilient wellbeing economy with Fair Work at its heart.

It is positive the report has recognised that:

  • There should be no return to austerity and recovery should be investment and stimulus led.
  • There is a strategic role for the Scottish Government to play taking equity stakes in business and public ownership within the economy is a key tool to guide recovery, with investment focused on strategic economic assets.
  • Fair Work conditionality is positive including only providing public grants and contracts to workplaces with ‘genuine workforce engagement through union recognition’.
  • Greening the economy and a Just Transition must be at the heart of Scotland’s economic recovery strategy.
  • The particular pressures on tourism and hospitality and the creative sectors and the need to support freelance workers from the creative sector during this crisis.
  • The need to reform the care sector.
  • The need to support Universities and Colleges and defend their financial position during the crisis.
  • The value of apprenticeships and the need to create a jobs guarantee for 16-25 year olds.
  • The value of the community wealth building approach and the need to accelerate investment in housing.
  • The value of establishing a new Centre for Workplace Innovation to improve business performance, innovation, Fair Work, workforce resilience and worker wellbeing.
  • That Fair Work Agreements should be collectively agreed with unions and in place for social care and hospitality by the end of the year.

We are concerned about the recommendations that ask the Government to:

  • Focus on a four capitals approach, an outdated analysis which talks of ‘human capital’ rather than people.
  • Prioritise business expertise rather than embed a genuine partnership approach between unions and employers across all sectors of the economy.
  • Place too high a focus on issues of planning and other regulations and wrongly identifies these as barriers to growth.
  • Skirts the issue of strengthening the Scottish supply chain for renewables and the need to ensure large scale projects deliver jobs in Scotland.
  • Lacks ambition about the use of borrowing powers and the need to strengthen these in Scotland.

The report is also silent on a range of issues that trade unions believe are essential including the need:

  • To strengthen employment rights and the safety net for unemployment and sickness absence.
  • To create a national construction and infrastructure company.
  • For a national conversation on communities, renewing the democratic settlement at a local level.
  • To create a Scotland wide Highstreet Taskforce to regenerate towns, protect jobs and improve shared community space.
  • To create a 4 day working week while protecting level standards.

Roz Foyer STUC General Secretary Designate said:

“There is much in this report to recommend, but we would ask the Scottish Government not to limit their ambitions for the Scottish economy and go far further on developing public ownership models and investing in the supply chain required for greening our economy.

“We are pleased to see the strong emphasis on support and intervention within the economy and we are clear that there can be no return to the austerity politics of the past. The STUC has already called for stimulus packages focused on achieving Scotland’s low carbon ambitions while embedding Fair Work throughout the economy, and it is positive that this report also recognises that this must be the priority.

“We also welcome the report’s recognition that a jobs guarantee for young workers is essential, as is the need to agree Fair Work agreements collectively with unions in both social care and hospitality. Support for the creative sectors and universities and colleges is also welcome. These sectors are particularly under pressure and it is right that interventions are targeted here but they must also focus strongly on improving job quality.

“While the report references Fair Work in several places there is a need to properly hard wire this into the recommendations. The report talks about a ‘Team Scotland’ approach but defines it as Government and business working together. Team Scotland must also include workers, and unions must be given a seat at the table to support economic recovery and drive Fair Work and innovation across all sectors of the economy.

“A single overarching strategic forum is welcome, but this should be created with Fair Work in mind and bring together unions, employers and the government to chart the best way through the crisis.”

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