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Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland's government will not 'willingly co-operate' if Trade Union Bill passes

Published 24/11/2015

Nicola Sturgeon delivered the annual Jimmy Reid Memorial Lecture at Glasgow University
Nicola Sturgeon delivered the annual Jimmy Reid Memorial Lecture at Glasgow University

The Scottish Government will refuse to "willingly co-operate" with new legislation governing trade union activity and industrial action if it is passed at Westminster, the First Minister has said.

Nicola Sturgeon said the SNP would continue to "vigorously oppose" the UK Government's Trade Union Bill, and will not comply with some of its measures if it is enacted in Scotland.

She launched a fresh assault on the controversial legislation as she delivered the annual Jimmy Reid Memorial Lecture at Glasgow University.

"The UK Government's proposed Trade Union Bill, as well as being wrong, is based on a world view that I simply don't recognise," Ms Sturgeon said.

"It sees the relationship between employers and trade unions as one of conflict rather than co-operation.

"It doesn't reflect public opinion here nor does it reflect the reality of industrial relations here. It offers illiberal solutions to a problem which simply doesn't exist in Scotland."

Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government would continue to call for laws governing trade unions to be devolved to Holyrood.

It will also continue to press for Scotland to be exempted from the Bill, or for a legislative consent motion to be required for it to become law north of the border.

The Scottish Parliament has already rejected it, Ms Sturgeon said.

The Bill contains proposals to restrict time spent on union activities, ban the mechanism where members can pay for their membership through their salary, and allow employers to call in agency workers when employees go on strike.

"The entire Bill is driven by dogma and ideology and an attempt to undermine the trade unions, not by any underpinning evidence," Ms Sturgeon said.

"We will do everything in our power to frustrate, undermine and to stop this Bill being enacted.

"But if it is passed and its provisions do apply to Scotland, let me tell you the Scottish Government will not willingly co-operate with it."

One example of this, Ms Sturgeon said, was a "categorical pledge that we will never employ agency workers in the event of industrial action in Scottish Government".

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