Employers across Scotland should give workers as much flexibility as possible to cast their vote in the Scottish independence referendum (Thursday 18 September) amidst expectations of an unprecedented turnout, says the county's largest trade union, Unite. Almost 4.3 million people have registered to vote on the country's constitutional future, creating the largest electorate ever for a ballot held in Scotland - a level of civic engagement reflected by Unite's internal polling which showed 93 per cent of its members in Scotland will exercise their vote.
Clear guidance has been issued by the Electoral Commission to help voters plan for the day and to cast their vote correctly, while extra staff will be on-call at polling stations during peak times to reduce the risk of delays. However, to avoid the potential for congestion and exclusion at polling stations, Unite believes employers can help people play their part in the democratic process.
Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said, "We can say with absolute certainty that the turnout at polling stations across Scotland on Thursday will be unprecedented, reflected by the Electoral Commission's registration figures and by our own internal polling. Traditional peak times for voting bookend the working day, first thing in the morning when the polls open at 07:00 hours and again in the evening until the polls close at 22:00 hours, so employers can play their part by giving as much scope as possible for working people to vote during the day too.
"The eyes of the world will be on Scotland so 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 a travesty. We welcome confirmation that extra resources will be in place at polling stations during peak times, 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."