Jim Murphy vows to end low pay in Scotland

Jim Murphy has announced a commission to address the problem of low pay. Picture: John Devlin
Jim Murphy has announced a commission to address the problem of low pay. Picture: John Devlin
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SCOTTISH Labour leader Jim Murphy pledged to end low pay in Scotland as he announced a commission to address the problem.

Mr Murphy said the commission would report later this year on how the party’s vision of eradicating low wages could be achieved.

It will be led by MSPs Jackie Baillie and Neil Findlay and include representatives from Poverty Alliance Scotland, RBS, the Federation of Small Businesses, shop workers’ union Usdaw and Barnardo’s.

The announcement was made in advance of a Labour summit in Glasgow this week on the living wage, which will bring together trade unions, business leaders and anti-poverty groups and inform the commission’s work.

Mr Murphy said: “I’m making it my mission to abolish low pay in Scotland.

“Too many Scots families are just a rainy day away from real financial trouble. More than one in four Scots get paid less than the living wage. This isn’t right, and we need to fix it fast.

“Scotland can only succeed when working people succeed. We need to come together to make this happen.

“The days of people going out to work all the hours they can and still not being able to make ends meet must come to an end. So we will make sure that any firms getting public sector contracts are living wage employers.”

Mr Murphy said that under his leadership, a Scottish Labour Government would set up a work commission to focus on getting people into jobs and increasing skills and wages.

He said: “The SNP Government promised to set up an event to discuss low pay, it was in their Programme for Government, but they’ve done nothing.

“Scottish Labour believe there’s been enough delay, the time for action is now.”

Eddie Follan, Barnardo’s public affairs officer, said he was pleased to take part in the commission.

He said: “At Barnardo’s we see every day the impact of poverty on vulnerable children and families, tackling in work poverty has a vital role to play in protecting those families.

“As the former co-ordinator of the living wage campaign in Scotland, I’ve seen the issue of a living wage for all go up the political agenda, that is welcomed, but we now need to take the next steps to make sure this becomes reality.”

A spokesman for Fair Work, Skills and Training Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “It is hugely regrettable that the Labour Party teamed up with the Tories during the Smith Commission negotiations to block the transfer of key powers over the minimum wage to the Scottish Parliament.

“After years of inaction under Labour, the SNP Government is proud of its record on implementing the living wage across the public sector in Scotland, but we recognise there is much still to do.

“As part of the delivery of our economic strategy we will establish a Fair Work Convention to consider the best thinking and research on matters such as the living wage. Employers, employees, trade unions and public bodies will be invited to participate and share their views.

“We are also funding the Poverty Alliance to promote take up of the Living Wage Accreditation Scheme across the wider economy.

“We have set the target of increasing the number of accredited employers in Scotland to at least 150 by the end of 2015 and are on track to achieve this target, which according to the Poverty Alliance is already benefiting over 100,000 employees.”

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