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A fair days pay for a fair days work

In recent weeks, I have made clear my views on the Chancellor’s introduction of his so-called ‘living wage’.

The move was clearly a political sleight-of-hand and allowed George Osborne to claim he was on the side of low paid workers, whilst in fact punishing them through his assault on Tax Credits and a host of other working age benefits. Also galling was the fact that the Chancellor set his ‘living wage’ 65p lower than the actual Living Wage was his hi-jacking of the terminology.

The notion of ‘a fair days pay for a fair day’s work’ is not alien to any of us. We tip waiters and taxi drivers because we recognise good service and like to give a little extra in recognition. We expect to live in a society where people are rewarded for doing something well and we, rightly, demand that we are reasonably remunerated for tendering our services to an employer.

Sadly, a minority of employers who can afford to remunerate their employees more pay them only the legal minimum. This is short sighted and not good business sense. Whilst some will argue that high wages drives job creators away and reduces profit and productivity, this could not be further from the truth. Indeed, the business case for higher wages has been made many times.

Raising wages reduces costly employee turnover and increases productivity, due to increased staff morale, eliminating any fall in competitiveness that would otherwise transpire. Importantly, extra money in the pockets of workers means more money to purchase the goods and services employers are selling.

In order to make this case and to encourage employers to reap the rewards of fair pay, the SNP government launched the Scottish Business Pledge. Launched in May, the Pledge is a partnership between Government and business which works to boost productivity, enshrine fairness and generate inclusive growth across the private sector and beyond

Pledge companies commit to paying their staff the Living Wage – the hourly rate of pay which is set independently by the Living Wage Foundation (£7.85) – as well as a further eight elements, ranging from prompt payment to senior management diversity.

I am pleased to say that 700 businesses as well as the SNP Government have signed up to the pledge and I am confident a great many more will do so in the near future. Local businesses can sign up at:

George Osborne’s hi-jacking of a Living Wage which has genuine meaning is reckless and unhelpful However, the decision by the SNP Government to promote employment fairness and to make the hard-headed business case for higher wages should be welcomed in helping to deliver a fairer and more equal Scotland.

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