Grant Costello: Scotland must back One Fair Wage to tackle poverty
IN SCOTLAND, we are proud of our progressive history. Time and again Scots have stood up for human dignity and better conditions. However, I’m not sure we can say that that remains the case.
The current poverty statistics make grim reading, with some 15 per cent of adults and 220,000 children living in poverty today. That is unacceptable.
Things are no better for young people. Youth unemployment is at an all-time high. Even if a young person gets a job, then the chances are that it won’t pay enough to live on.
A 17-year-old school-leaver is entitled only to a basic minimum wage of £3.68 per hour. Even working full-time they would only earn £128.80 a week. Many must be wondering: what’s the point?
Today, the Scottish Youth Parliament launches a new campaign that aims to make a difference – One Fair Wage.
Our aim is simple: we want organisations from across Scotland – from government to business, from charity to council – to pledge to pay their employees a Scottish Living Wage.
A Scottish Living Wage would make an enormous difference. It would mean at least £2,000 more a year for 550,000 low-paid workers. Younger workers would get even more.
That’s money that could be used on clothes, food or heating. It’s money that can be spent locally.
It’s money that could be the difference between an acceptable standard of living, and poverty.
There has been strong work done on this issue already, but more remains to be done. We want to see more public sector contracts going to living wage employers.
We want to see more companies paying a living wage. We want to see every local authority pledge their support.
From today, young people across the whole of Scotland will be writing to businesses, local authorities and MSPs to ask for their support for One Fair Wage.
Last year, Scotland’s young people argued for marriage equality – now we demand economic equality.
Our request is simple, reasonable and, we believe, inarguable – we think everyone deserves One Fair Wage.
• Grant Costello is chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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