The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) became the focus of the Scottish election campaign today, where Labour narrowly survived a vote on whether the unions should support them at the Holyrood election.
That was immediately followed by a further vote concerning Scottish independence in which delegates in line with Labour policy to overwhelmingly reject calls to break from the UK.
Common allegiances were tempered as some delegates expressed considerable reticence at the thought of supporting Labour, with many of them hoping to take a stand against the privatisation of public services.
UNISON, Scotland's biggest union and Labour Party affiliate, abstained from the vote.
SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon called Unison's decision a "watershed moment" in Scottish politics.
"If Unison. abstains, and even the general council of the STUC can barely bring themselves to support Labour, then it illustrates the depth of the crisis they are facing across Scottish society," she told the BBC.
The SNP, SSP and Solidarity are all to the left of Labour on a wide range of issues. They had hoped that their policies against privatisation would appeal to the natural inclinations of trade unionists.
All three nevertheless claimed that the closeness of the vote indicated widespread union disaffection with the governing party.
Once the vote concerning independence began, however, unions overwhelmingly rejected the key tenant of the SNP's platform, describing the idea as "economically damaging to union members and their families".