Responding to the Growth Commission report published today Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary said:
“The approach of the Commission seems primarily to recommend further strategies without many tangible actions. There is a welcome recognition of the need for government, businesses, trade unions and civic society to work together in order to achieve inclusive growth. However, this stands in stark contrast to the lack of trade union and civic society engagement with the growth commission itself in the preparation of this report.
“This perhaps has contributed to a number issues in the report that send a worrying signal to workers. Terms like ‘flexicurity’ do not sit well with the Scottish Government’s commitment to fair work and inclusive growth. There is also little mention of issues such as diversifying economic ownership and no commitment to increasing collective bargaining coverage, matters that go to the heart of how the economy functions and how progress on reducing inequality and improving productivity will be achieved. While a desire to reduce poverty and inequality is admirable, without a serious discussion about the need for increased taxation, investment and redistribution, this appears like wishful thinking. The commitment to match the UK’s corporation tax level is deeply worrying, particularly given the UK’s stated aim to slash tax and regulation in the wake of Brexit.
“The report makes a welcome commitment to focus on population growth with a more positive and sensible approach to immigration policy. It is also right that the Scottish Government should seek to promote the valuable contribution that migrant workers currently make to our society. However, the report could have gone further, to consider how issues around trade and investment could also contribute to fair work.
“The report’s approach to currency in the event of independence also raises a number of questions. The commitment to a new Scottish currency is not unexpected and although this option would in the long-term allow most discretion over fiscal and monetary policy, the transition could be extremely fraught and is likely to mean a period of deficit reduction leading to potentially severe fiscal restraint. The proposals that a 3% deficit could be maintained within the transition period, where sterling would be used outside of a formal currency, do not appreciate the potential economic implications. These proposals will require more detailed scrutiny and analysis, but it is difficult to conceive of how the wider economic goals of an independent Scotland could be met in the face of such austerity.”
For more information: Helen Martin, 0141 337 8100