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Connor is based on the East Coast and is passionate about contemporary Scottish politics and culture.
PCS branch votes to back independence

The East Kilbride Revenue & Customs branch of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) today voted “overwhelmingly” to support a Yes vote in this September’s referendum on Scottish independence.

The branch’s official Twitter account tweeted: “PCS East Kilbride votes overwhelmingly that PCS should campaign for a Yes vote in the Scottish Independence debate!!”

A later tweet added: “It was an overwhelming majority so we didn’t need to do an exact count. It was split 60-20-20 in favour of supporting the Yes.”

PCS is the sixth largest trade union across the UK. The East Kilbride R&C branch represents 2,250 workers at the local HM Revenue & Customs tax office, 570 of which were reportedly present at the vote.

It joins the Glasgow DWP branch of the union, which voted in favour of independence at its own Annual General Meeting on 14 February.

A special Scotland-wide PCS conference in Glasgow on 22 February, which will open with a debate between representatives of the Yes and No campaigns, will determine the union’s national position on the referendum.

Richie Venton, national workplace organiser for the Scottish Socialist Party, said the East Kilbride vote today was part of a “good week for trade unionists who are fighting for independence”.

He told The Targe: “Earlier, the huge Glasgow DWP branch of PCS voted by two-to-one for a Yes vote – but it wasn’t two-to-one against a No vote, it was two-to-one against neutrality. That’s a branch, from memory, of over 1,000 members.

“And now the huge East Kilbride tax office branch of the same union had a members’ meeting of around 600 in attendance and they overwhelmingly voted for Yes, with equal minorities for neutrality and No.”

Venton said the result showed that “where there’s been democratic debate and proper information provided by the union to consider the options, members are increasingly seeing independence as, number one: a route to escaping Tory brutality, and number two: a route to making demands from the future Scottish Government for things like a decent living wage, and workers’ rights with the abolition of the anti-union laws”.

He added: “Trade unionists increasingly are taking on board the point made by the Scottish Socialist Party and broad campaigns like Trade Unionists for Independence that voting Yes is not a vote for Alex Salmond or for indefinite SNP government – it’s a vote to democratically elect future governments and to fight for workers’ rights in a fashion that’s well nigh impossible under the three brands of Thatcherism that dominate Westminster.”

The labour movement is seen by many commentators as a critical demographic in the referendum, and PCS would become Yes Scotland’s biggest trade union backer if it votes to back independence on 22 February.

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