The Scottish Government has announced its plans to ensure that workers are protected from rising living costs, through their rights, as part of plans to create a fairer labour market in the nation.
Deputy First Minister John Sweeney has outlined what it could take for Scotland to ensure that workers are treated fairly, following the publication of the paper titled Building a New Scotland: A stronger economy with independence.
“Improving job security, wages and work-life balance are essential to delivering a more socially just Scotland. The UK labour market model has generated high income inequality while failing to drive productivity growth.
“Compared to independent European countries similar to Scotland, the UK has a higher prevalence off low pay, a bigger gender pay gap, longer working hours and significantly lower statutory sick pay.
“The Scottish Government is committed to Fair Work, but we could go much further to strengthen that agenda in an independent Scotland, developing a legal framework that more effectively addresses the workplace challenges off the 21st century. It would give us an opportunity to redesign the system to better meet the needs of Scotland’s workers and employers.”
With more control being handed over to local authorities through devolution, Scotland looks to be outlining where it would be able to improve workers’ rights, as the entirety of the United Kingdom works its way through the cost of living crisis. Some of the specific measures that are mentioned in the Building a New Scotland Paper include:
- Establishing a Scottish Fair Pay Commission to lead a new approach to setting a national minimum wage, working with employers, trade unions and government.
- Improving pay and conditions with a single rate minimum wage for all age groups and better access to flexible work to help parents and carers.
- Repealing the UK Trade Union Act 2016 as part of developing an approach to industrial relations which suits both workers and employers.
- Introducing a law to help workers organise co-operative buyouts, and banning the practice of staff being made redundant and re-hired on reduced wages and conditions.
- Increasing transparency in pay reporting and data to address gender, ethnicity and disability pay gaps and building on Scottish Government work to break down barriers to employment.
In the announcement, the Scottish Government mention models used by Germany and Sweden that would see workers compensated for lack of hours thanks to economic difficulty (German ‘Kurzarbeit’ programme) and the delivery of support for workers who are have lost – or are at risk of losing – their jobs (Sweden).
It is hoped that these measures would allow Scotland to thrive thanks to the retention of skills, reduction of long-term unemployment, as well as allowing for quicker economic recovery.