SCOTLAND’S foremost trade union leader has said it “really upsets” her to see the movement “painted as a Unionist front” every time strike action is announced.

But Roz Foyer, general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), added it wasn’t enough for Holyrood to just be better than Westminster.

She said while the UK Government's politics may be "alien” to most Scots, the Scottish Parliament - and government - must do better.

She told The National: “I'm a bit sick of hearing that whole mantra of 'oh well, we are better than England' or 'it's better than Westminster' because it's such a low bar.

"That is a government [the UK] that is ideologically opposed to supporting working people and has an ideology and politics which I believe is alien to most Scots.

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“But that's no reason why we shouldn't keep upping the ante and putting the pressure on the Scottish Government to do better for working people.

“And if we don't get up and get organised and get together and demand better, the politicians are not going to give us better.

“They only do it when they are pushed. They only make difficult decisions that are going to upset somebody somewhere else when we flex our muscles and show that we're angry enough to perhaps make them pay at the ballot box if they don't do things differently.”

Foyer, the first woman to hold the post of general secretary of STUC, rejected the idea that any battle with the Scottish Government over working conditions or wages was related to anyone’s view on independence.

The National: The leader of the Scottish Trades Union Congress has urged Holyrood to be more radicalThe leader of the Scottish Trades Union Congress has urged Holyrood to be more radical

She said: “When I see every time strike action is announced that the trade union is painted as some sort of Unionist front that really upsets me because it’s not us that are creating that strike action.

“It’s workers that are at the end of their tether. Nobody takes that decision to take strike action lightly. They’re doing it because they honestly can’t see another way.”

The trade unionist said the Holyrood had failed to fully utilise all of its powers since 1999.

At the time, Foyer said, there was a lot of excitement and hope for what the Parliament could do for Scotland - but she said she is disappointed it hasn't done more.

“It felt like a lot of things were possible,” she said. “But looking back we probably haven’t achieved anywhere near as much as I hoped and believed that a Scottish Parliament would.

“When we were doing the Yes-Yes campaign, back then the STUC was really central to that, it had been one of the longest-term campaigners for Home Rule and a Scottish Parliament right throughout the decade of its existence.

“What we wanted was a workers’ parliament – a parliament that would work for workers, that would be closer to the people and if anything, the sad thing about the Scottish Parliament is it’s not used its powers to the full - none of the governments have used the powers that that parliament has to their fullest effect to support people."

The National: Roz Foyer said the cost-of-living crisis shows the need to be radicalRoz Foyer said the cost-of-living crisis shows the need to be radical (Image: PA)

Foyer said there is no more important time to be radical than during a cost-of-living crisis.

She said Scots have been "deserted" by the UK Government as energy prices surge and food costs soar.

Part of that the issue with Holyrood, Foyer said, is centralisation: “I think that local accountability is really important and I think the Scottish Parliament’s role should be to set standards but it has to do that without losing that local accountability – that’s a really important aspect of what parliament should do.

"It should be looking to devolve power down the way rather than suck it up the way.

“But I think what I'm talking about is really making some radical choices when it comes to more progressive taxation, when it comes to how we run our economy and actually using the powers that the parliament has to benefit more people."

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Foyer said "relatively speaking" Holyrood does just that when compared to the UK Government, but added that "that's a very low base to compare to".

She continued: "The Scottish Parliament should be using its tax-raising powers to target the huge wealth that exists in Scotland.

"The two richest families in Scotland have got more wealth than the poorest 20% of Scots.

“There is much more we could be doing to tax wealth and to make sure that we're putting money in, you know, public sector workers pockets, for example right now.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government takes a responsible approach toward developing tax policy in line with the principles of fairness and progressiveness set out in our Framework for Tax – and under current rules tax policy cannot be changed within the same financial year.

“Decisions on Scottish Income Tax to date have created a fairer and more progressive tax system in Scotland, protecting lower earners while raising additional revenue to fund vital public services.

“The majority of powers for taxing wealth remain reserved to Westminster, but independence would mean full powers for Scottish Governments over a much wider range of taxes.”