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Time out to vote call

Workers must be able to take part in Scotland’s future vote
Amanda Campbell, Monday, September 15th, 2014

On probably the most historic of all Thursdays in Scotland’s history, Unite is concerned that on referendum day, this coming Thursday, September 18, workers everywhere will have as much opportunity as possible to make their voice heard.


Unite is urging employers across Scotland to give workers as much flexibility as they can to allow workers to vote – amid expectations of an unprecedented turnout.


A record breaking 4.3m people have registered to vote on the country’s constitutional future, creating the largest electorate ever for a ballot held in Scotland.


This level of civic engagement was reflected by Unite’s internal polling last week, which showed 93 per cent of members in Scotland will be exercising their vote.


“We can say with absolute certainty that the turnout at polling stations across Scotland on Thursday will be unprecedented, as reflected in the Electoral Commission’s registration figures and by our own internal polling,” commented Unite Scottish secretary, Pat Rafferty.


The Electoral Commission has already issued clear guidance to help voters plan for the day and to cast their vote correctly. Extra staff will also be on-call at polling stations during peak times to reduce the risk of delays – a move welcomed by Unite.


Traditional peak times for voting bookend the working day, first thing in the morning when the polls open at 7 am and again in the evening until the polls close at 10 pm.


“We welcome confirmation that extra resources will be in place at polling stations during peak times,” said Pat Rafferty.


“But we all have a moral obligation to help alleviate the inevitable strain that a record turnout will bring and ensure the vote goes as smoothly as possible.”


So to avoid the potential for congestion and exclusion at polling stations, Unite believes employers can certainly take action that would help people to play their part in the democratic process.


“Employers must help by giving working people as much scope as possible to vote during the day too.


“The eyes of the world will be on Scotland. We must avoid the problems which marred the 2010 general election – when people were turned away from polling stations as the polls closed despite queuing for hours.


“That would be nothing short of a travesty,” he added.


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