ONLY one political party is confirmed to be showing solidarity with the tens of thousands of civil servants taking industrial action today – which includes parliamentary staff.
Some 100,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) across 123 employers will be taking part in the nationwide strikes. This will impact government ministries, museums, driving test centres, ports and airports.
The industrial action will coincide with UK-wide “right to strike” rallies in response to the UK Government’s anti-strike bill. The action is thought to be the biggest day of coordinated strikes for over a decade.
Each of the parties elected to Holyrood were approached for comment on whether they would cross virtual or physical picket lines. Picket lines will be at all three entrances of the Scottish Parliament from 8am to 11am.
Scottish Green MSPs and staff will refuse to cross the picket lines and will not be participating in any parliamentary business. They also intend to join PCS protests to further demonstrate their support.
SNP, Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat MSPs will all carry on with “business as usual”.
Scottish Green MSP Maggie Chapman said: “The Scottish Greens stand firmly with striking workers. We will not cross any virtual or physical picket lines, and hope that MSPs from all parties will join us in that.
“With the Tories introducing a range of new and repressive anti-trade union legislation, it is more vital than ever that we stand in unity and solidarity.
“So many of our existing rights have been won by working people coming together and taking action. Whether it is minimum wage, paid holidays or weekends, all of these rights have been hard fought and won by organised, unionised workers.
“Trade unions have done so much for every single one of us, which is why we must support them.”
The Liberal Democrats press team said their “MSPs will be taking part in business as usual”.
A Scottish Conservative spokesperson said: “We respect the decision by Scottish Parliament workers to go on strike, but equally hope that resolution can urgently be found to avoid future disruptive industrial action. There is a duty for everyone involved to get back round the table as soon as possible to find a positive solution to this dispute.
“However, constituents rightly expect our MSPs to represent them in important Parliamentary business and holding the SNP-Green government to account, and they will be in attendance on Wednesday.”
An SNP spokesperson said: "While the SNP recognises and respects the right to strike, the business of government and parliament will continue as normal.”
Scottish Labour did not respond to our request for comment. Last week, The Herald reported Labour MSPs intend to only cross picket lines for “urgent or serious business” and only “with the agreement” of unions.
It is understood that an important health issue would warrant MSPs to enquire with the Public and Commercial Services Union if they could cross the picket line, however, this has not been confirmed.
Labour previously failed in an attempt to suspend Wednesday’s parliamentary business and move items for discussion to Tuesday and Thursday.
In an attempt to move parliamentary business, Labour MSP Neil Bibby said: “In light of that industrial action, we propose to move parliamentary business next Wednesday.
“That business can all easily be done on different days and I am sure that there is a lot that members can work on in their constituencies and regions, including engaging with trade unions.
"That is the course of action being taken by the Welsh Parliament, as proposed by its business committee and agreed by all parties with the exception of the Welsh Conservatives. We should do the same here.”
How will Holyrood work?
Portfolio questions on the constitution, external affairs, culture and justice are all set to take place during the industrial action.
Holyrood also announced that the building will be closed to all those who do not have a security pass. MSPs who do cross the picket line will sit in the main chamber, and some committee meetings will take place virtually.
The Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body – which is responsible for the administration of parliament – said it is “committed to ensuring that Parliamentary business can continue that day”.