Scottish Government
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Protect partnership working

Trade Union Bill could damage strong relationships.

The Health Secretary has highlighted the vital role trade unions play within Scotland’s health service.

Shona Robison has joined other Scottish Ministers in calling for Scotland to be exempt from Westminster’s Trade Union Bill, which passed its final reading in the House of Commons this week.

She said:

“The Scottish Government, NHS Scotland and Trade Unions and professional organisations have a shared and long established commitment to partnership working, and this is embodied through the work of our Scottish Partnership Forum. I do not support a Bill that seeks to undermine that relationship and was pleased to see support for this approach in the Scottish Parliament earlier this week.

“I am proud that our consensual and mature approach to industrial relations allows us to jointly discuss challenges and co-produce solutions to improve the delivery and transformation of health services in Scotland. I believe that our collaborative approach and our shared values of mutual respect and understanding are central to the success of our model of working and that the staff voice is more effectively represented in these discussions.

“I believe that health outcomes for the people of Scotland have improved as a consequence of our way of working. A research study from Nottingham University described partnership in NHSScotland as ‘probably the most ambitious and important contemporary innovation in British public sector relations’, and our model was held up as good practice in the cross-sector Working Together Review.”

Staffside Co-Chair of the Scottish Partnership Forum, Lilian Macer (Unison) added:

“There is no evidential base for the changes suggested in the Trade Unions Bill and I am concerned that the proposals could be contradictory to the partnership structure in place. Our stable and transformative industrial relations in NHS Scotland are underpinned by a staff governance standard which is embedded in law in Scotland.

“I would therefore urge the UK Government to reconsider this unjustified and unnecessary restriction on the ability for NHS Scotland to conduct its own employee relations. Our partnership working model is collaborative, fit for purpose and does not require further legislative reform which risks destabilising our successful and embedded partnership working practices.”

Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training Roseanna Cunningham also said:

“The Scottish Government has actively sought to promote the very constructive role trade unions play in the workplace, in the wider economy and civil society in reducing both inequality and building our economic success.

“To see the Bill being passed by the Commons has been deeply disappointing. However, the Scottish Government intend to bring forward a Legislative Consent Memorandum to give the Scottish Parliament the chance to fully consider whether it would give consent to the application of the Bill’s provisions in Scotland. The Bill as it stands is not a constructive platform upon which we can pursue our ambitions for Scottish workers.”


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