MEMBERS attending the SNP’s conference have voted resoundingly in favour of introducing a Jobs for All scheme in an independent Scotland.

The resolution, which called for employment to be made a “human right”, passed by 521 votes to 21.

The amendments to the resolution, put forward by the SNP’s Leith branch, also passed by a large majority, of 459 votes to 37.

The resolution was moved at conference by Cameron Archibald, from City of Stirling SNP branch, and then seconded by Kairin van Sweeden, from the Aberdeen Donside branch.

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The two had previously penned an article for The National explaining why they were asking SNP members to back their resolution

Archibald told conference the guarantee would create a scheme that expanded and contracted in response to opposite movements in the private sector, arguing that by working in this way it would “support a smooth transition to monetary sovereignty in the event of a Yes vote”.

Van Sweeden (below) added that involuntary unemployment and austerity “have always been policy choices, but never a necessity”.

The National:

Moving the amendment was Simon Barrow, from the Leith branch, and Councillor Adam McVey, the SNP leader of Edinburgh council.

Andy Oliver, from the Stonehaven and Mearns branch, Councillor Laura Brennan-Whitefield, and Chris Hanlon, the SNP’s policy development convener, also spoke in favour of the resolution, but technical issues meant Hanlon was cut off part way through his contribution.

Brennan-Whitefield cautioned that the job guarantee must not be discriminatory against those who are unable to work for whatever reason.

“We have to acknowledge that, for many, there are additional barriers to employment,” she said, adding that “preconceived, ableist beliefs must be challenged”.

The National:

Host Kirsten Oswald MP (above), the SNP’s deputy leader at Westminster, announced that the amendment had passed by 459 votes to 37, and the resolution as amended had passed by 521 votes to 21.

The resolution, with the accepted amendments inserted and in bold, reads: “Conference welcomes the Scottish Government’s Youth Guarantee, protecting the next generation from the economic scars of Covid-19 and Westminster austerity.

“Conference believes that periods of unemployment can cause serious harm to an individual’s mental and physical health, leading to further strains on our National Health Service. Furthermore, unemployment has a disproportionate effect on women, ethnic minorities and young people.

“Conference proposes an independent Scotland should develop the Youth Guarantee into a universal programme, that offers employment as a human right and seeks to redefine ‘work’.

“A universal Job Guarantee programme should empower local communities to allocate resources to meet their respective needs. We must be willing to create jobs for all abilities, most especially for those considered to be ‘unskilled’. This programme would offer new alternative routes to positive destinations and ensure no one is left unemployed as we move from a fossil fuel economy to a green economy.

“Conference also believes a universal Job Guarantee programme must never be used as a test on vulnerable groups, but as an offer of opportunities to those who seek them. Furthermore, these would only be public sector jobs that are community focused.

“Conference further believes the full powers of independence can better facilitate a universal Job Guarantee programme as well as, and in full compatibility with, a Universal Basic Income. An independent Scotland would have the fiscal and monetary tools to fully utilise our labour and resources for such purposes.

“Conference proposes a localised test trial of a universal Job Guarantee programme and calls on the Scottish Government to work with Local Authorities to develop whatever enabling legislation may be necessary to run effective pilot programmes. This includes education and training alongside employment as part of any universal citizen’s guarantee, following the success of the Edinburgh Guarantee for young people which provided the model used by the Scottish Government for the rollout of the recent young person’s guarantee. We also note that SNP Councillors in Edinburgh are delivering an expanded scheme to put in place support for all citizens, especially those facing additional barriers, to access employment, training or education throughout life and the policy should take cognisance of and support ongoing developments.

“Conference therefore proposes the party’s policy development committee works through the National Assembly to develop a permanent Job Guarantee programme that can increase Scotland’s productivity and personal and social well-being.”