David Scott in Edinburgh
14 March 2011
First Minister Alex Salmond is to seek a
deal with Scotland’s trade unions that would guarantee no compulsory
redundancies across the public sector.
He told the Scottish National Party’s
spring conference in Glasgow at the weekend that, if he wins the Holyrood
election in May, he would attempt to secure an agreement on a continued pay
freeze and more flexibility in return for the protection of existing jobs.
that such an agreement could and should be extended across the public sector,
through local government, through our schools and also into our colleges as
well as throughout our health service,’ the first minister said in his speech
on March 12.
He added that
it was ‘important to have valuable staff properly valued’ and that it was also
important to the economy.
In his last
speech before the May election, Salmond guaranteed to continue the SNP
government’s policy of free university education, despite the changes in
England where universities will be allowed to raise existing tuition fees from
He said some
university principals in Scotland feared that Scotland would fall behind
England as a result of its no fees policy but he stressed that he do not believe
this would happen.
He added: ‘We
do not intend to withdraw the state from higher education. Any funding gap will
‘We would only
fail if we were to betray our traditions and mortgage the future. So, when it
comes to the question of university fees or graduate taxes, I know where I
will melt with the sun before I allow tuition fees to be imposed on Scottish
students – upfront or backdoor.’
council tax freeze in Scotland looks set to continue irrespective of whether
the SNP or its nearest rivals, Labour, win the election.
The SNP is
already committed to continuing its tax freeze. And in a significant policy
U-turn also announced on March 12, Labour leader Iain Gray said his party would
not increase the tax for the next two years and keep rises below inflation for three
years after that.