Most of the major trade unions in Scotland have adopted a positive and sensible approach to the referendum, as have the STUC. This year’s Congress was a real debate conducted in the best spirit of trade union principles – and contrasts significantly with the chaotic contribution of the Confederation of British Industry. I accept the right of some individual trade unions and the STUC to adopt a position of challenging both sides , whilst welcoming those unions and branches that support a Yes vote.
However todays Communication Workers Union UK Conference decision is disappointing as they have gone down the same cul de sac as the GMB in that their leadership have imposed a line without consultation in exactly the same way as the CBI did – to support a No vote without consulting any of their members.
So it proved for the CBI - registering of CBI for the No campaign without the basic requisite of consulting its own members was only going to have one effect. Resignations. Another part of this however, begs the question as to why so many public bodies were members in the first place.
At the STUC Congress, correctly, the decision was taken to challenge both sides. This was a genuine engagement, and any trade union who has engaged with their members properly will tell you, that whilst they may have an individual view, they wish the trade union to challenge both sides – exactly the course taken by PCS.
These recent events leave the decision taken by the Communication Workers Union , all the more baffling. Already on social media, CWU members are signalling their resignations, in what was described only a few weeks ago by the Sunday Herald as a “sham consultation”. Whilst I would never encourage any member to resign, the feeling of being ignored and not consulted is an anti-democratic practice, which, given the importance of the decision is indefensible.