A row broke out last night after a tape emerged of a senior SNP minister claiming losing civil service jobs would be a good reason to vote Yes.
Pro-UK supporters claimed it showed the Scottish Government was willing to sacrifice thousands of jobs in the pursuit of independence.
But the SNP claimed it was a “desperate” attack on what was a “light-hearted aside”.
The tape is of Transport Minister Keith Brown talking during a debate with the Federation of Master Builders in Dunblane.
When someone asked about civil service workers, Mr Brown replied: “I was waiting for the day when someone from the Labour-Tory alliance comes forward with a positive reason for independence and perhaps we’ve just heard it – a reduction in the number of civil servants in Scotland.”
Out of a total of 43,900 civil service jobs in Scotland, 61%, or 27,000, are UK Government posts.
The row broke out as union leaders prepare to meet Scottish Government ministers today to discuss worries over the future of thousands of defence jobs in the even of a Yes vote.
Scottish Labour deputy leader Anas Sarwar said: “We know that one million jobs in Scotland are linked to the UK and the Yes campaign need to explain why they are prepared to sacrifice them for separation.
“Whether it is jobs in defence, financial services or the UK civil service, Scottish jobs are not a price worth paying for Alex Salmond’s dream of breaking up the country.”
A spokesman for Mr Brown said: “This is desperate stuff from the No campaign, and dredging up what was clearly a light-hearted aside from two years ago is scraping the very bottom of the barrel.
“As we have made crystal clear in the white paper on independence, we will work to ensure continuity of employment for all staff currently working in the civil service in Scotland.”
A spokeswoman for Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) said: “We note the remark was made in 2012 and hope that Mr Brown is now fully up to speed with the Scottish Government’s guarantee of no compulsory redundancies to civil servants.”