MSPs set to cross picket lines despite Scottish Parliament strike action

MSPs are set to cross the picket line of the strike by Holyrood civil servants next week, with all SNP, Liberal Democrat and Conservative members expected to attend.

Scottish Green MSPs, however, are understood to not be expected to attend for ordinary business. Scottish Labour is yet to settle on a position, which could put them at odds with their trade union supporters.

Members of the PCS union are taking part in industrial action on Wednesday, with workers at the Scottish Parliament among those expected to be involved in the walkout. The Parliament will be closed to the public on that day, with only those with a security pass able to access the building.

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However, business in the chamber and in committees will continue, with portfolio questions on the constitution, external affairs and culture, and justice and veterans briefs.

The Scottish Government will also lead on a debate on the consultation on electoral reform. However, there will be no access to the public galleries, tours of the building will not take place on the day and the public cafe will be closed. Access arrangements will return to normal on Thursday.

It is understood Scottish Green MSPs will not be expected to attend, allowing them to avoid crossing the picket line and stay away from the Parliament in solidarity with the striking workers.

Scottish Labour is understood to have not yet settled on an approach, but the starting point for the party is to not cross picket lines. The final decision of whether MSPs will attend will be taken once business is finalised and after potential discussion with the PCS union.

However, a letter sent by Monica Lennon, the convenor of the Scottish Labour Trade Union group, expressed their opposition to business being conducted in Parliament during the strike. The letter urged the Parliament to reconsider its approach to avoid “unintended consequences” on staff who are still required to work.

MSPs are set to cross the picket line of a strike by the PCS union on Wednesday.MSPs are set to cross the picket line of a strike by the PCS union on Wednesday.
MSPs are set to cross the picket line of a strike by the PCS union on Wednesday.

The SNP, which has a strong pro-right to strike policy, will ask MSPs to cross the picket line.

An SNP spokesperson said: "While the SNP recognises and respects the right to strike, the business of government and parliament will continue as normal.”

A Scottish Conservative spokesperson said: “We respect the decision by Scottish Parliament workers to go on strike on Wednesday, but equally hope that resolution can urgently be found to avoid future disruptive industrial action. There is a duty for everyone involved to get back round the table as soon as possible to find a positive solution to this dispute.

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“However, constituents rightly expect our MSPs to represent them in important parliamentary business and holding the SNP-Green Government to account, and they will be in attendance on Wednesday.”

Alexander Burnett, the Tory chief whip, also hit out at “breath-taking, self-serving hypocrisy” from co-leaders of the Scottish Greens, Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, after they did not vote in a motion about the strike earlier in the week.

He said: “Every Green MSP, except the two of them, voted against this motion – presumably out of solidarity with those striking. But when push came to shove, these members of the SNP-Green Government decided that their salaries and position as ministers were more important than any point of principle.

“That’s in keeping with the way their party has abandoned any pretence that it’s interested in the environment or any of the things it claims to stand for. The only things the Green party leaders believe in, judging by their actions, are a swanky job, a larger pay check and shoring up the SNP.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Greens responded: “The Tories with their authoritarian, anti-union and shameful war on working people are the very reason millions will go on strike this Wednesday.

“Our Ministers Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater can – and do – vote against the Government on issues which are excluded from the Bute House Agreement, as they did this week.

“As a group, the Scottish Greens do not support the scheduling of business on a strike day, will not cross picket lines and need no lectures on solidarity from the Tories.”

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