Thursday, 28 November 2013

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson supporting St Andrew's Day anti-racism rally

Last week Ruth Davidson made a fantastic speech in the Scottish Parliament in support of Equal Marriage.  Here she adds her, and the Scottish conservative Party's support for the St Andrew's Day anti-racism March and Rally.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson

The eyes of the world are beginning to fall on Scotland, thanks to not only the upcoming Commonwealth Games, but of course the independence referendum which closely follows.

That puts a pressure on us to promote the fair society we strive to be, and show the watching world that there is simply no place for racism.

It doesn’t matter whether discrimination is prompted by skin colour, nationality or religion, it is unacceptable in modern Scotland.

While we are mindful of the work we still need to do, it is important we acknowledge the advances we’ve made in eradicating racism and recognise that sport can play a huge part in how we see ourselves and how others see us.

It’s a disgrace that some football teams approach matches in certain European countries with trepidation, purely because they know every time a black player receives the ball, he will be greeted with a chorus of boos or monkey chants.

It wasn’t so long ago that the UK had such flashpoints too, and while we’re pleased that this has gone from the British game, it is not something we can afford to become complacent about.

That’s why the Commonwealth Games can be such a key demonstration of the value of progress.

Glasgow is a friendly city and we will welcome every member of every team from every country that’s competing.

Having the friendliest Commonwealth Games in history here in Scotland will show other countries the huge benefits in atmosphere, support, engagement and competition that stamping out racism can bring.

It takes public and political will to do this and while Scotland has both, we can’t pretend that there is not a stubborn minority for whom discrimination and prejudice is a poison they still choose to practice.

If pockets of racism didn’t still stubbornly exist, I wouldn’t be writing this article, and the Scottish Trades Union Congress wouldn’t be staging this important rally every year.

I’m proud to be associated with the event for the second year running, as was my predecessor as leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Annabel Goldie.

If we are to maintain the progress achieved thanks to longstanding events such as this, people and politicians from across the political spectrum must come together to offer their full-blooded support.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Scottish Government's White Paper childcare pledge

The White Paper pledge to significantly increase childcare provision is a good thing.  Critics have suggested that there is nothing to stop a Scottish Government implementing such a policy now, under existing powers, and that is true.

It is however also true that if under existing powers the Scottish Government currently wished to raise taxes in order to significantly lower the cost of childcare for parents, there would be something of a negative incentive.

Basically, cost of provision is 100% borne by Scottish taxpayer.  Increased labour market participation would generally benefit Scottish economy but some of the specific advantages  (fewer benefit payments more and increased tax take) would accrue to the Westminster and only a proportion of this would end up back in Scottish Government coffers.  The greater the level of fiscal autonomy the smaller the disincentive.

But this would chiefly be the case in circumstances where Scottish taxes were raised above the UK average in order to fund the policy.  And that's not what we heard form the Scottish Government today.  To genuinely aspire to the Nordic model of childcare cost/labour market participation, tax as a share of GDP would have to rise.  Here are a couple of graphs, indicative rather than exactly comparative, to make this point.

Dave Moxham

Monday, 25 November 2013

Expect a pause in the St Andrew's Day Anti-Racism Weekend blogs
tomorrow as we catch up with the not unimportant question of the Scottish Government's Independence White Paper.  Meanwhile we remain grateful for the continued support of all of Scotland's mainstream political parties for the St Andrews Day march.

Willie Rennie MSP, Leader, Scottish Liberal  Democrats

As Scots, prejudice and intolerance run contrary to our values and beliefs. This is something that my parents taught me at a young age. It is something that I am teaching my own children and I know that parents across the country are doing the same.

We have made real progress in tackling racism in our society in recent years. The STUC and other groups have been at the forefront of efforts to curb racism and they deserve credit for their hard work. But we know that there is still a long way to go.

Education is key to eradicating the scourge of racism from our streets, from our schools and workplaces. This march is another opportunity to educate people and send a strong message that there is no place for racism in Scotland.

I hope that those joining us today will take this message back to their own communities. Take it back to the pub, to the football club, the local shop or takeaway. When we hear racist abuse, we need to speak up.

To those who would say that this is not their problem, I say you are wrong. This is everyone’s problem. I want to see a liberal, open, welcoming Scotland. Fifty years on from Martin Luther King’s speech in Washington it is down to all of us to ensure that people in Scotland are judged not by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.

Dr King’s speech was delivered in a different time and from a very different place. But the lessons from his work are as relevant today as ever.

Racist attitudes are not welcome in any part of our modern, liberal United Kingdom. Today we have a chance to take a stand for equality and shout that message loud and clear.

John Wilkes, Scottish Refugee Council

The world is watching
Scotland has a proud history of providing hope and safety to people seeking sanctuary. Men, women and children fleeing war, terror, torture and other atrocities have rebuilt their lives and raised their families here.

These ‘new Scots’ seek in Scotland a place where human rights and human dignity are respected. A place where difference – whether in ethnicity, sexuality, political or religious beliefs – is accepted and valued.

Next summer Scotland will welcome thousands of athletes and visitors to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. With the world watching the Games, we have an opportunity to show the world this vision of Scotland – a country of diverse, vibrant communities; a country that protects the vulnerable and welcomes new Scots and celebrates the talents and skills they bring.

But we know that this is not always the reality in Scotland. While we welcome the news that hate crime in Scotland has decreased, even one such incident is one too many. We know that racially motivated crime makes up over two thirds of hate crime charges raised in Scotland. We must continue to work to rid our country of any form of discrimination, and look for further opportunities to break down barriers between people across racial divides.

Many refugees in Scotland come from Commonwealth countries where human rights abuses are common. Many have been persecuted for their religious or political beliefs. Others have been tortured or suffered other violations of their human rights because of their sexuality. Many more have fled terror and violence based on ethnic divisions. As we help these new Scots rebuild their lives and raise their children here, we must remember the atrocities faced by people around the world and work towards building a country where everyone feels safe and welcome

Nicola Livingston Public Affairs Officer Scottish Council of Jewish Communities

The World is Watching

Every year the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC) and Jewish Student Chaplaincy Scotland receive enquiries from students, parents, universities, and families about life in Scotland from Jewish people around the world interested in coming here to study or work.

For many years these enquiries were about facilities: kosher food, the nearest synagogue, educational and social activities – but then around five years ago something strange happened. The level of enquiries remained the same, but the questions changed dramatically: people started asking whether it was safe for Jewish people to live in Scotland.


Over the last four years there have been five serious racist attacks on Jewish students at Scottish universities – not many, but more than during the whole of the preceding 40 years. The worst was in St Andrews and resulted in the conviction of another student. Scottish Government figures reveal that, while prosecutions for sectarian crime have been falling, the picture is very different for minority religions. When the size of the communities is taken into account, Muslims are almost 10 times, and Jews more than 20 times, as likely as Christians to be the victim of religious hatred.
ACPOS point out that since hate crime targets people because of the group they belong to, “fear of hate crime escalates dramatically in those who share with an immediate victim, the same group identity that has made a victim a target.” So these incidents had a wider effect on Jewish students across Scotland, who now feel less safe and less confident about engaging in everyday social, educational, and religious life on campus. Students' comments about their experiences in blogs and social networking sites were picked up by print and online media in the UK, USA, and across Europe, and Jewish people have become more hesitant about moving to Scotland.

The world is indeed watching, and wondering how much longer Scotland will tolerate this increase in antisemitic behaviour that tarnishes its reputation as a warm and welcoming society.

Friday, 22 November 2013

On the eve of the St Andrew's Day March and Rally, STUC will be holding its second songs festival featuring songs on the themes of social justice and equality from Scottish schools including from Shetland and Dornoch Firth.  So over the next week we'll be featuring some blogs about songs and social justice.
Today’s guest blog was written by Daniel Gray, the Edinburgh based author of ‘Homage to Caledonia: Scotland and the Spanish Civil War’, ‘Stramash: Tackling Scotland's Towns and Teams’ and ‘Hatters, Railwaymen and Knitters: Travels through England’s Football Provinces’. 
 For as long as there’s been struggle there’s been song. It is as much a part of protesting, of building a better tomorrow, of ‘getting up off our knees’ as The Housemartins sang, as are placards and books.
Many who stand tall to stop hospitals being closed or raise fists of anger to shout ‘No Pasaran’ at the Scottish Defence League are deeply creative people. When principles and music meet, the results shatter the heart, lift the chest and remind us we’re not alone.
I can be anywhere, doing anything, and when one of these songs arrives via Shuffle mode the goosebumps pop and I feel comforted by the shared identity they represent, that club of rebels and wits that sometimes lets me in.
I am sorting out the laundry when Alistair Hulett’s version of the Internationale comes on; I wave t-shirts over my head as banners and sing-along into damp socks. I am on my way to work when The Wakes’ These Hands comes on; ‘BUT HAD MY PART TO PLAY’ I blurt aloud, very much frightening mothers and their children on the way to school. It can happen via the jukebox in a pub too; Ghost Town comes on, asking me if I remember the good old days before the ghost town and I half-dance my way back to the table with a pint in my hand, loving the song, hating what That Woman did to My England.
But enough of my private demons. The Unions into Schools Songs Festival is about writing songs and righting wrongs. The first of those are the myths that claim young people don’t care and protest song is dead. They do care and protest song is more alive than ever, sharpened through its shove to the margins by radio stations, record companies and the music press, enlivened by the possibilities of the internet and the hope of youth.
The other wrongs we know too well: racism, fascism, homophobia, warmongering, the rich man in the castle having the lot while the poor man is booted out of his house for not paying the Bedroom Tax.
So play on, struggle on, sing on.
Daniel Gray
Twitter: @d_gray_writer

Dee Mathews of Show Racism the Red Card will be a speaker at the St Andrew's Day anti-racism march and is co-organiser of the United Glasgow XI vs Show Racism the Red Card XI football match on Sunday 1st November - all part of St Andrew's Day anti-racism weekend.


Vicki Burns Campaign Manager of Show Racism the Red Card - Scotland

Unity is strength: show racism the red card

The impact of austerity is felt all too painfully by our BME communities who are amongst the most marginalised. However, the current state of the economy is negatively impacting a large cross section of society, job losses and cuts in benefits are painfully felt by young and old. Those living in poverty, dealing with unemployment or disability and single parenthood are left feeling invisible and as second class citizens fighting insurmountable barriers to achieve inclusion and full participation within their communities.

This creates a fertile breeding ground for the scapegoating and blame that lay the foundations for racism where it is often easier to place blame at the door of migrants and those seeking refuge from persecution and war rather than challenging government policy that has led us to this moment.

Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC) has always worked proactively with our union supporters and has now been delivering anti-racism education in England for 17 years, in Scotland for 10 years and in Wales for 7 years. From the very beginnings of the campaign in 1996 the organisation has successfully worked in partnership with Trade Unions. We are grateful and enthused by the consistent way that Trade Unions have supported our work.

In England, at the end of October, SRtRC and Unionlearn signed a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (MoU) which commits both parties to working together to combat racism through learning.

The MoU was signed before the start of the annual Unionlearn conference, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said, “Professional footballers too often face horrific and very public racial abuse, as we saw in a Champions League match in Moscow only last month. Show Racism the Red Card has also shown that footballers can use their profile to be effective anti-racism ambassadors, particularly when speaking to young people. By working closely with Show Racism the Red Card, we can educate people and set about eradicating racism school-by-school, college-by-college and, through our network of 30,000 learning reps in workplaces across the UK”.

In Scotland, SRtRC has now completed one of the busiest and most high profile months, our Fortnight of Action (FoA) during 15th – 29th October has seen professional football clubs demonstrate their support for the campaign at League fixtures. Through on-going union support, a series of small grants were made available for community groups to develop local anti-racist learning activities. These activities took place in areas such as Falkirk, Glenrothes, Pilton and East Kilbride. The FoA was launched on 10th October at K Park run by East Kilbride Community Trust, with a special match between ex-professional footballers and representatives of community organisations, the match was preceded by educational workshops with young people from local primary schools who then had a chance to watch the match and meet the players.

Dee Matthew, Education Coordinator at Show Racism the Red Card Scotland will be speaking at the STUC’s annual St Andrew’s Day March and Rally against Racism and Fascism on Saturday 30th November in Glasgow.

Dee says, “Show Racism the Red Card in Scotland has worked with 13,000 people in the last year educating against the dangers of racism and religious bigotry. What is striking is that our young people by the age of 12 years old are exposed to damaging and divisive reporting in the media. Our experience within classrooms up and down Scotland is that this exposure to inaccurate reporting, for example on UK immigration, is leading our children to reply ‘Illegal’ when asked about the terms Asylum Seeker or Immigrant. External sources of information, myths and dangerous stereotypes impact on young people’s world view and influence their understanding before they have a chance to gather information for themselves and think critically. There has never been a more important time to be delivering education that provides an alternative and truthful world view to take away the burden of prejudice. We look forward to continuing to work closely with our trade union partners to achieve this”.

Show Racism the Red Card fully supports the STUC’s St Andrews Day March and Rally against Racism and Fascism, we will continue to work with the trade union movement to send out a clear message that racism cannot and will not be tolerated in any part of our multi-cultural and diverse society.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

There is a Better Way - Organise (1)

Guest blog by Graeme Ewart, Unite Deputy Convenor on their fight for recognition at GE Caledonian, Prestwick

When I joined a union I did it as many do, to belong, to be part of something bigger.

Perhaps I was spurred on by the takeover of my company by a huge multinational like GE. My colleagues and myself knew our unionised sister site in Wales had better terms and conditions and we had become disillusioned with our Works Council that had proven to be  nothing more than a tick box exercise, a powerless non-negotiating body and at best only a tool for communication .
Our workplace was a typical non-union workplace; low pensionable pay topped up with large shift allowance and loads of overtime. It took five years from being bought by GE for enough people to think the time was right to make the move to recognition. To be honest looking back we weren’t ready as a workforce and our Union at the time the AEEU should’ve realised that, the divisive issues on the shop floor were played upon by the Burke Group, the union busters hired by GE.
Turning the clock forward 9 years we had changed as a workforce, our average age was 54, priorities focused more on important issues; pensionable pay for one. Our union had changed as well not just in name, Unite now had a focus on organising workforces in a way that harnessed their energy and channelled it in a positive, constructive manner.
We started focusing on the things we had in common as opposed to the things that kept us apart. So when our campaign went live we were ready, positive, resolute and focused on a goal. We were fighting to be treated fairly and receive the normal pensionable salary within our industry, a fight more important than ever as GE were making draconian changes to our pension scheme.
Union busting tactics were used again, workers were threatened with a world of if’s, but’s and maybe’s, doom and gloom and threats of lack of investment if recognition was secured!
We countered with a private Facebook group backed up with a text network. Our ever growing membership was mapped accurately. We confronted every half-truth, we named and shamed managers publicly for scaremongering, we raised grievances locally and across the pond to headquarters, petitions and newsletters were circulated.
The rule was, the louder the better,
We posted company’s profits, always positive and always good news; we knew we could achieve more as empowered workers in a recognised site; not just for our benefit but for our customers and GE too. Organisers call it innoculation telling the workforce what the employers will do do before they do it and countering.
Our maps were so accurate that when we went to CAC ballot for recognition we knew we would win; our activist network and workforce were battle hardened, immune to anything thrown at them.
As a recognised site we have gained a lot of respect, management know we’re a determined empowered workforce who will stand up for what we believe is right.
In conclusion this wasn’t a fluke and can be repeated anywhere, there’s no such thing as a non-member,  only potential members;  get organised, listen, allay their fears, communicate with them by any means possible and attempt to address their issues.
This is how we grow our union membership; Unions are the future not the past! People don’t expect a magic wand to be waved and all will be well, but they want to  seek realistic negotiated solutions.

For more information on the 2012 recognition campaign  watch the video Vote Yes, Vote Unite  .
Stick to the motto that we still use. STRONGER TOGETHER!!!
Graeme Ewart
Unite Deputy Convenor

St Andrews Day anti-racism march - message of support from Johann Lamont MSP, Leader of the Scottish Labour Party

Yesterday, we featured the First Minister speaking in support of STUC's St Andrew's Day March and Rally Against Racism. Today Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont writes about Martin Luther King and the ongoing fight for equality.

Earlier this year, we celebrated 50 years since Martin Luther King gave his famous 'I have a dream' speech.

When he led more than a quarter of a million to Washington in 1963, the civil rights movement faced a seemingly impossible task in overcoming an establishment which believed that not every man or woman was equal.

But Dr King's eloquent message of hope and equality overcame the conservative forces that tolerated segregation and, as a consequence, society slowly began to see past the politics of division and grievance that fuelled racism.

Has Dr King's dream become a reality, where every man and woman is given equal standing? Certainly not in his lifetime, as he was sadly taken from us just a few short years after his stirring speech.

Yet we have made tremendous progress in breaking down barriers to the fair and just society most of us aspire to. When once an elderly Black woman would have to give up her seat on the bus for her white 'superior’, we know have a generation of young people who don't recognise colour as a defining feature of people's place in life.

And what greater legacy could we claim for those tireless and brave civil rights campaigners than President Barack Obama, revered all round the world for his charm, intelligence and thoughtful leadership.

That dream must have seemed impossible in 1963 but it is a reality today - one important landmark on the long road to full equality.

We know that our ambition for a fair and just society, where opportunity is afforded to all, no matter their race, orientation or background, still eludes us today.
Sadly, people still face discrimination because of their colour, race or ethnicity.

Too many men and women are not fully accepted by all of society because they are gay.
Women still face challenges breaking into the spheres of influence traditionally dominated by men.
Disabled people still encounter too many barriers preventing them accessing the quality of life they should be entitled to.

And many children's life chances are decided by the age of three, held back by their background, denying them the opportunity to achieve their potential.

But we can take inspiration from the success of those amazing men and women, black and white, who marched on Washington that day, demanding what they knew was right.
They remind us that social change is hard-fought and we can only achieve our ambitions by winning the political argument for change. We cannot allow complacency to set in or settle for a false prospectus based on myth and assertion.

We in the labour and trade union movement have always campaigned to bring about change for good. We know that there are no quick fixes or magic wand that can bring about change.
But we know that through our collective endeavour, we can achieve real change, winning hearts and mind one at a time.

The fair, equal society free of prejudice we aspire to won't happen tomorrow but we have to believe we can achieve it one day.

We can be confident that the generation that follows us will be more tolerant, more progressive and more open to equality if we instil in our children these values we hold dear.

Those people who followed Martin Luther King to Washington 50 years ago believed they could challenge racial prejudice - now we have a Black President leading the free world.

I don't know what the symbol of our success in our struggle against inequality will be in 50 years’ time, but I look forward to campaigning with you today to help us get there one day.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

First Minister, Alex Salmond MSP on why it is important to support STUC's St Andrew's Day anti-racism march

Over the next fortnight STUC will be featuring articles and contributions from politicians, campaign groups and celebrities on why it is important to support STUC's St Andrew's Day anti-racism march on 30th November and the weekend of anti racism activities surrounding it. For more details go to the STUC site or like the weekend of events on facebook.

"I have great pleasure in supporting this year's STUC St Andrew's Day anti-racism march.

This event is an important annual reminder of the need to be vigilant about the threat racism poses to our communities and I commend the STUC for the consistent leadership they have shown on this vital issue for many years.

The theme of this year's event, "The World is Watching", sets out clearly that the eyes of the world will be very much on Scotland in 2014 with the XX Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup and second year of Homecoming taking place. It is our opportunity to once again show that Scotland is a welcoming and diverse country which does not tolerate racial or religious prejudice, and we are a nation where people of all faiths - and none - live in peace.

I would like to send my best wishes to everyone who is taking part in the march and rally. Events like this remind us there is a wide consensus committed to building a society in which all of our people are achieving, regardless of their background, where the barriers to participation are removed and where all of our people are treated fairly and have the opportunity to fulfil their potential."

Monday, 11 November 2013

The case for a Living Wage Unit in Scotland, for Scotland

The case for a Living Wage Unit in Scotland, for Scotland

Last Thursday the Scottish Living Wage campaign and Scottish trade unions held a brief lobby outside of the Scottish Parliament.  Its purpose was to ask MSPs to sign up to a Living Wage pledge.  The full detail of the pledge is here.

In period of less than an hour, we had secured 35 signatures and a number of emails and tweets from MSPs who were otherwise detained pledged their support.

Who were they? Almost every Labour MSP, Patrick Harvie MSP from the Green Party, Independent MSPs John Finnie and Jean Urquhart and SNP backbenchers John Mason MSP and John Wilson MSP.

Two of the four points within the pledge relate to the Procurement Reform Bill.  The background to this is that the Scottish Living Wage Campaign, STUC, SCVO and many others, remain of the view that there are no clear legal impediments to the Scottish Government legislating to ensure that the Living Wage is included in contract performance clauses as part of contracts procured by Scottish councils, the NHS and others in areas such as social care.  The Scottish Government takes the opposite view and seeks to evidence this by a letter it has received from the EU.

This was a position repeated by Local Government and Planning Minister Derek MacKay to a major roundtable conference of social care providers hosted by STUC and Unison Scotland last Friday.  He also indicated, and this gave some grounds for optimism amongst the assembled audience, that Scottish Government continued to explore all potential options short of including a clause in the Bill, to maximise the Living Wage impact of Scotland’s £11 billion annual procurement budget.

So, to return to the pledge.  Neither of the procurement points we asked MSPs to support brought them into conflict with the Scottish Government’s position.  Indeed it can be argued that they are as close to what Derek MacKay was arguing as they could be (given that neither he, nor we, has communicated about such matters in advance).

So, on the presumption that this is the case, the reason that no more than two SNP MSPs felt able to sign the pledge must relate to one of the other two points.  Either that a summit between COSLA and the Scottish Government on paying the Living Wage is a bad idea or that they  continue to oppose the creation of a Scottish Living Wage Unit.  It is difficult to imagine that the first is a problem.  Surely if one doesn’t think that the Living Wage can be guaranteed through the Procurement Reform Bill, it would be a good idea to get together with Scottish local authorities to work out what can be done?  Even if I’m wrong on that, let it be said now, we will drop that request if it is causing an impediment to Scottish MSPs signing the pledge.

Which leaves us with fourth part of the pledge ‘the creation of a Scottish Living Wage Unit’.

A bit of background is necessary here.

The Living Wage in London is calculated by a specific unit, created by the Greater London Authority under Ken Livingstone in 2005.  The unit researches low pay issues and sets the London Living Wage annually.  It also promotes the Living Wage in London to employers.  The Living Wage for the rest of the UK is set by the Living Wage Foundation, an arm of Citizens UK.  The Scottish Living Wage Campaign has a representative on this body.  The Living Wage Foundation does excellent work, has some important business sponsors and can rely on the work of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation's work on the Minimum Income Standard.

The UK rate is set annually as the same figure across the UK.  At present its level is reasonably fairly applicable to Scotland given the general convergence of Scottish and UK employment and cost of living trends.

So what’s the problem with the current set-up?

I’d suggest that there are four reasons why the Scottish Government should want to create a Living Wage Unit here in Scotland.

1)    Annually, the Scottish Government sets its pay policy as part of the Scottish Budget process.  This includes the monies which must be set aside to meet the Government’s (welcome) commitment to paying the Living Wage and relates to employees of the Scottish Government, NDPBs and NHS Scotland.  It also impacts on local authority budgets given that all councils are now Living Wage employers.  It is not a satisfactory situation that the Cabinet Secretary of Finance sets his pay policy with no advanced knowledge of what the UK Living Wage will be and with no guarantee that Scottish data and political circumstances play a part in that calculation.

2)    The London Living Wage is different from the UK’s because of additional costs related to living in the capital.  Should the Scottish Government be content that there is no way in which it can take a similar view about whether costs might be different in Scotland or across Scotland?

3)    Because the Living Wage is voluntary it relies on promotion.  Companies are (preferably) persuaded by the positive case for the Living Wage, or else embarrassed into action by the positive actions of others.  The persuasive impact of a Scottish Living Wage Unit, backed by the Scottish Government would make a difference.

4)    The extent to which the Living Wage can be effectively promoted depends, to a degree, to the political discourse that surrounds it.  For example, a strong political view that ‘women’s’ work (such as in the care sector) is undervalued to the detriment of fairness and sustainable economic growth could have an impact.  Or a particular piece of research on, say, rural poverty in Scotland, might provide a particular focus for tackling low wages in the farming, food processing or hospitality sectors.  If it is accepted that the political discourse is different in Scotland, why not maximise its effect by creating a Living Wage Unit to reflect different priorities?

As a proportion of the overall monies spent by the Scottish Government on economic research and promoting income equality, the cost of the creation of a Scottish Living Wage Unit would be financially insignificant and would probably, to a very large extent, simply involve the refocusing of the activities of civil servants currently employed on related activities.  As a low cost means of income maximisation, it’s a no-brainer.

It is to be hoped that this isn’t a question of party politics.  The proposal for a Living Wage Unit was initially brought forward by the Scottish Living Wage Campaign but was introduced to Parliamentary discourse by then Labour MSP, John Park and now features in the Living Wage Bill which was picked up initially by Kezia Dugdale MSP and now Mary Fee MSP.

Having been pressed by various MSPs to support a Living Wage Unit, the Scottish Government is on record a number of times as not being persuaded on the case for a Living Wage Unit.  But I can’t track down any substantive reason given for why this is the case.  The latest question in Parliament was put down by Neil Bibby MSP to Cabinet Secretary for Finance John Swinney MSP, and he simply ignored that part of the question.

Neither the Scottish Living Wage Campaign, nor the STUC, nor the many other voluntary, equality and anti-poverty organisations which support a Living Wage Unit have the remotest interest in political point scoring over this issue. 

We just want a Living Wage in Scotland, for Scotland.

Dave Moxham
11th November 2013