It’s been a month since my last column in The National and if a week can be a long time in politics, the past 30 days in the Scottish bubble have seemed like a millennium.

For those keeping score, in that time, Scotland has had a new First Minister, a new Deputy First Minister and a whole host of new and reshuffled faces in the Cabinet.

The SNP’s election contest claimed their head of communications for their MSP group and their chief executive in addition to revealing to all and sundry the clear differences that exist within the party.

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While at times unedifying, it allowed all to see a power struggle at play. Candidates vying to be next first minister, so keen to get the keys to Bute House, either praised or pulverised their own government’s record in office.

In the period between the election contest starting and then ending with a Humza Yousaf victory, it was revealed that child poverty is at the same levels as it was when the SNP took power in 2007.

It was revealed that real wages have fallen, with public-sector workers in particular bearing the brunt in their pay packets.

It was revealed that economic growth in Scotland will shrink, while inflation climbed even higher to 10.4%.

This isn’t meant to be doom and gloom, just a reality check. That in the time taken for the SNP to appoint a new leader, workers’ wages continued to be slashed, the economy continued to shrink and child poverty – a stain on the social fabric of Scotland – showed no sign of improvement.

The First Minister should know that it cannot be business as usual. That time is ticking if he is to deliver on his election promises. To that end, we do welcome the affirmation he made at his inaugural FMQs, in response to Ross Greer, to meet with the Scottish Trades Union Congress and to continue the strong engagement with trade unions on the key issues of the day.

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We also believe, in a departure from the approach of his predecessor, that it’s a positive step to elevate the Fair Work and the Wellbeing Economy brief to a Cabinet Secretary role, with the appointment of Neil Gray being an astute choice.

If this shows Yousaf’s seriousness of purpose – a willingness to properly fund our public services via wealth, land and income taxes – then it’s a good start.

Inevitably though, actions matter. Deeds, not words. Change cannot be piecemeal or too slow. While workers are living through the worst cost of living crisis in decades, radical action is required.

That means fundamentally altering the power imbalances within our economy. It means redistributing wealth, from the top down, to provide for those in need.

It means introducing universal free school meals, tackling child poverty and ensuring kids have the best opportunities to learn and play.

It means root-and-branch reform of our energy markets, bringing an end to the obscene profits made by so few at the expense of so many.

The limitations on the powers of the Scottish Parliament and the callous actions of the Westminster Government present a major challenge but this shouldn’t stop the present government in Scotland from straining every sinew in the pursuit of social justice.

This is the tone that we, the trade union movement, will take into our annual Congress in Dundee the week after next. Almost 400 trade unionists, from 37 affiliates – marking the largest STUC mobilisation of our movement since the pandemic – will gather to demand better from our politicians, government, and decision-makers. Our Congress will be unapologetically pro-worker – we don’t have time to be anything less.

IF the cost of living crisis has shown us anything, it has revealed that powerful interests – often those FTSE 500 CEOs at the top of the corporate food chain – can continue to rake it in while workers at the bottom struggle to keep afloat.

The First Minister, who is set to address our Congress, will hear this for himself – there can be no worker left behind.

While our movement has secured some stunning victories over the past year, not everyone has won yet.

We still have PCS workers out on strike; our university and college staff fighting for better pay, pensions and terms and conditions, and the posties still fighting for justice against an intransigent employer.

Now our junior doctors are balloting for industrial action.

Workers cannot win until we all win. Until those in the clenny and the classrooms get the same as those in the banks and the boardrooms, you’ll rightly find workers – those same people gathering in just over a week’s time in Dundee – calling out pay injustice.

Believe you me, that message will be just as loud and clear to Angela Rayner and Anas Sarwar as they also address our Congress.

If we are to succeed – and God knows working people must succeed against this Tory government so content to destroy our working rights – we need those on our side to stand up and be counted, including politicians. Yes, that means being physically on our side on the picket lines, something I’m pleased to say Scottish Labour at least have been uncompromising on.

It also means that, when the time comes and the Tories have been carted out of office, the next Labour government devolves employment law as quickly as possible to the Scottish Parliament.

Time is running out. As shown this past year, working people don’t wait on a political messiah. If the solutions can’t be found by the politicians in their parliaments, workers take to the pavement in protest.

If a week was a long time in politics then our Congress comes at the opportune moment – and not a second too soon.