At its mid-March annual conference for Scottish members, the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) confirmed its 2013 decision to support the No campaign against Scottish separatism and the break up of Britain. The delegates gathered in Dundee overwhelmingly supported the policy, with 82 per cent voting against breakaway.
Usdaw’s Scottish Divisional Officer, Lawrence Watson, commented following the vote, “Our members in Scotland are rightly concerned about the future of their jobs in an independent Scotland. They are not prepared to take that gamble, particularly in the face of the warnings coming from leading retail employers. That is why Usdaw is making a positive and strong case for Scotland remaining part of the UK family.” Referring to the consultation process leading to these conference decisions he pointed out, “We have listened to our members’ views, investigated the pros and cons of independence and come to the conclusion that we are stronger and better together.”
Usdaw is Britain’s fourth largest and fastest-growing trade union, with over 433,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17 per cent over the past five years and by nearly a third over the past decade.
Now Usdaw has joined in consultation with the other unions who have voted at their conferences to support No to separatism and to keep workers united in Britain. Community (this union includes workers in the steel industry), Aslef (workers in the rail industry), GMB and the National Union of Mineworkers have agreed a joint programme of action with Usdaw. A first move will be a public fringe meeting during the Scottish Trades Union Congress, which will convene in the Caird Hall, Dundee from 14 to 16 April.
Another union likely to support this unity position is the postal workers union CWU, which begins its annual conference in Bournemouth on 27 April. The decisiveness of these workers is in stark contrast to the mealy-mouthed “fence-sitting” of the large unions Unite and Unison and of the Scottish Trades Union Congress itself. ■