I have urged for active promotion of the living wage in Fife after a YouGov poll found that 90% of Scots believe companies should be paying the wage to their workers. Figures estimated that there are over 23,000 workers in Fife who are paid less than the living wage, the 3rd highest total across local authority areas in Scotland. The wage, currently set at £7.65 an hour, would see a rise of £2,600 per year for a full time worker currently earning the minimum wage.
I have called for the living wage to be actively promoted amongst the private sector and has urged the Scottish Government to back a tax rebate for firms who pay it, along with establishing a National Living Wage Strategy.
I met with workers outside the Parliament as the Procurement Reform Bill was passed by Parliament. During the passage of the bill proposals from Scottish Labour to deliver the living wage to workers on public contracts were defeated by the SNP and Conservatives.
It was extremely disappointing that the SNP chose to side with the Conservatives and failed to back Scottish Labour’s proposals for the living wage. This would have resulted in a pay rise to cleaners, caterers, retail and other staff working on public contracts across Fife.
We must ensure that action is taken, it is not enough for the Scottish Government to simply pay lip service to its introduction. It is estimated that across Scotland, Fife has the third highest number of workers earning below the living wage, this must change. Workers deserve a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work.
That is why Scottish Labour is proposing a £1000 tax rebate to employers who pay the living wage, as well as establishing a National Living Wage Strategy that would report and be accountable to elected members. The YouGov poll shows the support for a living wage, and I know from speaking to people on the doorstep in Fife what a huge difference that pay rise would make to paying the bills.
That is why we need to promote the living wage more effectively and ensure that we can protect our workers and communities and grow the economy here in Fife.