Eireann McAuley: Why should young workers like me vote Yes this time round?
Eireann McAuley, chair of the Unite Scotland Youth Committee, takes the Growth Commission to task, and wonders why they've let down young workers who voted Yes in 2014.
At age 16, the 2014 Scottish independence referendum was the first time I could vote.
At that time austerity was decimating public services and there was little sign or hope that austerity was going to be challenged any time soon. It felt at the time Scotland had nothing to lose.
But as the Scottish Government revs the engine for a second round, that vision of hope is all gone.
In the 2014 White Paper, the trade unions were prominent.
But the Sustainable Growth Commission didn’t meet a single trade unionist - not even the STUC.
Why did they have time to meet with the Institute of Directors, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Confederation of British Industry, but none of the organisations representing workers? This is a startling statement of intent of the type of country and economy they want Scotland to have. It also appears to completely forget that it is the workers on the ground who make our economy function and grow.
Reading the report, you can see why. In 2014, I was told that the Scottish Government cared about encouraging more people to join trade unions:
“We will work with the STUC and the business community on mechanisms to formalise the relationship between government, employer associations and employee associations with a particular focus on encouraging wider trade union participation and in recognition of the positive role that can be played by collective bargaining in improving labour market conditions.”
This time round, collective bargaining has been abandoned. All they promise us is that it will be really easy to ‘fire and hire’, and that they’ll top up the dole.
As a trade unionist, I am appalled. As a former Yes voter, I am disappointed.
Ending austerity with the possibility of a fairer and more just Scotland was another big reason why I backed independence in 2014. But all they can promise this time is huge cuts followed by jam tomorrow. Everybody knows that ‘disciplined finances’ is a euphemism for ‘doing what the international money markets want', and what they want and what are in the interests of working people are two very different things.
There’s another difference for me: this time, there’s a real alternative. Labour under Jeremy Corbyn and Richard Leonard is promising a better life for working people across the UK. Collective bargaining, a real living wage, and a redistribution of wealth and power. And unlike the Scottish Government, who’ve proven in the last four years that their commitment to progress is skin deep, Jeremy and Richard have a track record in fighting for working people and a better and more just country.
The truth is, the SNP have shown that they'd prefer to represent bankers than working people. I am not interested in a plan that insists on further austerity when our public services have already been cut to the bone. In 2018 the vision of hope and transformation is coming from Labour and not the reheated Yes campaign. Labour is offering a programme that would genuinely redistribute wealth and power, instead of just capitulating to international markets.
Importantly as well, it's a vision for all working people across this country and not just those North of Gretna. That's a vision of unity that also gives us strength, and as proud trade unionist that's the vision that i believe is in our interests, rather than the Cuts Commission - sorry - 'Growth' Commission that was published on Friday.