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Radical idea to win votes Efficient model

Little noticed in the Scottish Government's booklet on the economic advantages of independence was a tantalising reference to enforced worker representation on company boards, certainly a radical suggestion in current UK terms.

"We [currently] have no powers, for example, over a living wage, over gender and worker representation on company boards, or over tax incentives to encourage companies to take on more workers - practical examples in countries like Norway and Germany show that this not only benefits workers, but also helps companies and the economy grow," the document said.

Is the prospect of Scotland pioneering mandatory inclusion of workers and women a vote-winner? Agenda put the question to Dave Watson of trades union Unison, which unlike the No-voting Aslef has yet to show its hand.

He was guardedly welcoming, saying: "A positive vision of a better Scotland will always be attractive to trades unionists when they decide how to vote in the referendum."

Allow Agenda to explain how they actually do things in Germany. While listed companies (AG) must always install a supervisory board, it is only mandatory for limited liability companies (GmbH) if the company has more than 500 employees.

In smaller firms, the supervisory board can, in principle, be made up of representatives from the shareholder side only. Firms with more than 500 employees must have representatives from both employers/shareholders and employees, and at least one-third of representatives must be workers.

Last month, a proposal to introduce a female board member quota was rejected by the Bundestag, though the ruling CDU party pledged to introduce a 30% quota from 2020.

So Scotland has the opportunity to get ahead even of Frau Merkel's Germany, if enough people want it, though quotas are not hugely popular.

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