The Scottish National Party (SNP) Trade Union Group’s first conference in Stirling last Saturday dispelled any doubts about Labour’s decline in Scotland.
The group now claims almost 16,000 members. Senior union officials, branch officers and workplace reps were among the 123 delegates.
The leadership was clearly pleased with the turnout and is now grappling with the task of turning the group into an influential force in the trade union movement.
Trades councils will be one focal point because they “significantly influence the development of the Scottish TUC’s discourse over a period”.
Devolution of unions’ political funds is another priority.
But the top table was dominated by politicians who argued for “partnership working” between unions, bosses and government. Strikes were scarcely mentioned.
And there were tensions. The leadership is looking to electoral machine politics. But it’s clear that many see the group as a way of rebuilding trade union strength to take on the Tories.
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon told delegates she didn’t want to see strikes but industrial relations based on“pulling together”.
“We are one Scotland,” she said.