We’re committed to promoting good employment practices and fair pay in Scotland. Over the weekend there were encouraging figures from the Resolution Foundation which showed that, over the last two decades, pay in Scotland has grown faster than any other nation or region in the UK.
This positive news demonstrates that the work of the SNP in Government to tackle low pay and promote good working practices in Scotland is continuing to make a difference.
Tackling low pay
The SNP fully supports the Living Wage campaign. The SNP Scottish Government was the first in the UK to become a living wage employer and, last October, published guidance making it clear that payment of the Living Wage should be taken into account in public sector procurement decisions. In Government the SNP is also funding the Poverty Alliance to promote the take-up of the Living Wage Accreditation Scheme in every sector across Scotland.
We are proud that Scotland now has more than 430 Living Wage-accredited employers, putting us in touching distance of our target of having over 500 businesses as Living Wage accredited employers by March 2016. More than 80% of Scots now receive the Living Wage or higher, but there is much still to do.
We are taking action to lift those who are not receiving the Living Wage out of low pay. For example, in the care sector we are working to address low pay by encouraging care providers to pay the Living Wage, and are working with COSLA and care providers to further progress fair work practices.
Promoting progressive workplaces
The SNP in Government has also introduced the Scottish Business Pledge, which asks employers to commit to good workplace policies. Pledging to pay the Living Wage is at the core of the Scottish Business Pledge, which also covers issues such as zero hours contracts, investing in young people, progressing diversity and playing an active role in the community.
The pledge has received 185 signatories since its launch in May 2015, and while we know this is just the beginning, we are making progress to encourage progressive workplace practices.
Opposing the UK Government’s Trade Union Bill tooth and nail
Trade-unionism is at the heart of achieving fair work. In Government, the SNP has adopted a collaborative approach to industrial relations – we have seen a significant decrease in the level of industrial dispute in Scotland over the last 7 years in government, and the number of days lost to industrial action remain some of the lowest in the UK.
The Tory Trade Union Bill is an attack on the fundamental freedoms of trade unionists, and demonstrates the huge difference in the attitude towards trade unions between the UK and Scottish Governments. We will continue to oppose it tooth and nail.
Provisions in the Trade Union Bill include curbing facility time – the amount of time and resources unions can negotiate with employers to represent their members. The bill would also see the abolition of check-off, which enables union members’ prescriptions to be deducted from their salaries.
The Scottish Parliament has made its opposition to the bill absolutely clear. The last time the bill was debated, MSPs voted against it by 104 votes to 14. Today the Scottish Parliament’s Devolution published its report on the impact of the Bill and reaffirmed its rejection of the general principles of the Bill.
We believe that the powers over trade union employment law should lie with the Scottish Parliament; not Westminster. Nicola Sturgeon has written to David Cameron calling for Scotland to be excluded from the Bill and for all decision-making powers over industrial relations to be transferred to the Scottish Parliament. However, while these powers lie with Westminster we are committed to using every power at our disposal to build an economy based on high pay and fair work.