FOR the political commentariat at least, a lot can be made of a leader’s first 100 days in power.

It’s perhaps another example of the creeping Americanisation of our politics – a completely manufactured event that, while interesting to those in the bubble, is completely devoid of substance and real-world impact.

If you were interviewing the social care workers of Scotland, they would have no idea that it was Humza Yousaf’s first “100 days”. They just want fairer wages and better conditions.

If you were chatting to the junior doctors within our NHS, they’re too busy trying to make ends meet on a derisory initial wage, all the while saving lives.

The National: Protest at 13th Note in Glasgow

If you’re speaking to the hospitality workers of the 13th Note in Glasgow, they’re leading an inspirational fight for health, safety and fair pay in their workplace.

In other words, the First Minister can be in power for however long or short they want – it’s their actions that matter within that time. Can we say that, for those workers above, their opportunities have demonstrably improved as a result of a change of occupancy in Bute House?


What this manufactured milestone achieves, though, is an arbitrary timeframe for political leaders to set their stall out. A chance to give our movement and the rest of civic Scotland an inkling into their principles or the direction of travel for their government.

To that end, we did appreciate, in what was his first external event as First Minister, Humza’s attendance at our STUC Congress. To his credit, he came bearing gifts. As expected, he pledged his government’s welcome opposition to the Tories’ Strikes Bill. One step we didn’t expect – and it is a marked difference between the First Minister and his predecessor – is that the Scottish Government wouldn’t issue one single work notice to any employee under this bill.

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An example of action over words? Good. On the face of it, the Scottish Government looks set to defy an element of reserved powers.

A form of non-compliance? That’s more like it.

For too long, the powers of the Scottish Parliament have been constrained on employment law. If Westminster is taking off the kid gloves and undercutting the powers of the Scottish Parliament – blocking the GRR Bill and obfuscating the Deposit Return Scheme – I’m all for Scottish Government ministers returning the favour, especially when workers’ livelihoods are on the line.

But, frankly speaking, this is the least we should expect – and our movement demands more.

We will challenge government. We will demand politicians be better and support those in need, using the full powers of the Parliament. 

Our movement has a hard-won, hard-fought-for seat at the table to make that case.

It’s undoubtedly true that industrial relations between the First Minister and the STUC are incomparably better and more positive than relations between our movement and the UK Government.

But being better than Westminster isn’t the dizzying height we should aspire to, nor should it form the basis for any defence lines from the Scottish Government when seeking to govern competently.

Where allyship exists, we will find it. We do share some ambitions with the Scottish Government on fair work, net zero and defending our right to strike. Wherever possible, we will work with the Scottish Government to achieve this.

However, we cannot ignore Newton’s third law of motion. For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction; for every positive the First Minister has achieved, especially within his first 100 days, there have been negatives.

Cost of Living Crisis Rumbles on

THE plans from government on the proposed rollbacks of universal free school meals, including a further delay to the rollout for primary six and seven, will only embed and increase poverty further and undermines the anti-poverty stall the First Minister set out from the outset. Further still, a record dip in employment showing the fragility of the economy in Scotland coupled with the explosion of zero-hours contracts give us cause for concern.

Horrendously, Scotland is now the zero-hours capital of the UK, forcing people – predominantly young workers – into precarious employment in the midst of a cost of living crisis.

Moreover, a leaked paper from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) and the Scottish Government last week revealed some potentially stark rises in council tax being considered by local authorities and ministers.

While rises for the wealthiest are welcome, tinkering with the council tax is a blunt-force trauma tool that is widely regressive and is absolutely not the vehicle to deliver the radical, progressive redistribution of wealth our communities need. 

It speaks to the Scottish Government’s lack of ambition that, instead of scrapping it as pledged all those years ago, it ploughs on with an outdated system.

We need a wholesale rates review and government should be aware that, in trying to fund local authorities through council tax rises, it is merely putting a sticking plaster on a gaping wound and dressing it up as a progressive outcome.

The road ahead is bumpy, let’s make no mistake about it. If Humza’s first 100 days are a roadmap to smoother paths and calmer times, then there are elements to welcome.

But we won’t get too carried away and we certainly aren’t taking our eyes off the ball.

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Inflation is still outstripping wage growth, our public services are on their knees, and workers are demanding far better from government and politicians.

The First Minister, to his credit, appreciates the role of our movement. We understand his role as first of all ministers. But our responsibilities differ and we make no apologies for it.

We answer to our movement. They’re the ones leading the fight against poverty, inequality and injustice. That fight won’t subside. It won’t get quiet. It won’t lose momentum. It won’t go away.

In totality, 100 days is nothing. What we do within that time is what matters. That’s the key message the workers of Scotland are sending to the Scottish Government.

The STUC has been about much longer than 100 days – 126 years to be exact – and we’ll be here long after this government and the next.