Smith Commission ‘a missed opportunity’ to create a fa...

Smith Commission ‘a missed opportunity’ to create a fairer workplace agenda

27 November 2014

Unite, the country’s biggest trade union, has today (Thursday 27 November) called for the new powers for Scotland to be used to improve workplace justice – whilst expressing concern that the recommendations of the Smith Commission may be a ‘missed opportunity’ to fully drive-up employment standards and tackle poor workplace health and safety regimes. 

Although the commission makes for positive provisions on issues, like the control of aspects of welfare to better protect some of the most vulnerable in our society and the extension of the voter franchise in Scottish parliamentary elections, the recommendations fall short of Unite’s expectations. 

While the spotlight has shone largely on the commission’s recommendation to fully devolve the control of income tax to the Scottish parliament, Unite firmly believes that key arguments made by trade unions to tackle income and workplace inequalities have been largely ignored. 

Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said: "We would have wanted more definitive powers over employment law, including the power to replace the statutory minimum wage with the Scottish Living Wage, and this omission is a missed opportunity to tackle the many inequalities in our labour market.

“We also hoped for full powers on workplace health and safety law to ensure the buck stops with the Scottish government in tackling the average 20 fatal workplace accidents a year in Scotland and to make a better fist of curbing lax workplace health and safety regimes.

“However, through control of the employment tribunal system and with the potential to develop a Scottish Health & Safety Executive alongside the reform of the culpable homicide law and the fatal accident inquiry system, we can still deliver a better justice system for working people in Scotland. 

“Nonetheless, we still the face the prospect of further attacks on employment law and a fight with one hand tied behind our backs over the deregulation of workplace health and safety if another Tory-led government is elected in May 2015.”


For further information please contact Peter Welsh, Unite Scotland Communications, on 07810157931. 

Notes to editors:

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.