Jackie welcomed Scottish Labour’s commitment to making work pay by launching a Low Pay Action Plan to tackle in-work poverty.
The plan includes measures to increase the roll-out of the Living Wage, currently set at £7.85 an hour. Scottish Labour has called for the establishment of a National Living Wage Strategy to be monitored by the Parliament to target key employment sectors where workers are employed on poverty pay.
The strategy will work in tandem with a proposed National Living Wage Unit.
This week Scottish Labour released analysis of earnings data by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre which identified the lowest paying industries in Scotland.
It revealed that major employment sectors in Scotland such as hospitality services and retail have median hourly rates well below the living wage. Paying the living wage would mean a wage rise of up to £2600 a year for around a quarter of people in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Helensburgh working in the lowest-paid sectors.
A combination of low wages and insecure hours means that thousands of Scots are experiencing in work poverty.
Scottish Labour will promote the living wage in the private sector with the living wage strategy and Living Wage Unit. The party also back raising the minimum wage to £8 an hour and “Make Work Pay” contracts which will see employers receive a £1000 tax rebate for paying the living wage.
Earlier this year Scottish Labour attempted to extend the living wage to workers on public contracts, which would have guaranteed a pay rise workers in low paid jobs such as cleaning, catering and retail.
The SNP voted with the Tories to block the move.
However, this week the Department of Energy and Climate Change announced that their subcontracted staff would be paid the living wage, joining a range of private employers, including KPMG and Nationwide, in paying the living wage for all their staff.
With over 400,000 Scots being paid less than the living wage Scottish Labour believe that the time has come for the living wage to be the expectation, not the exception.
“It is vital that we recognise during Living Wage Week that hundreds of thousands of Scots are still experiencing in work poverty.
“There are workers in the hospitality and retail industries which employ hundreds of people in West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute, in dire need of a pay rise.
“The SNP got it badly wrong when they voted with the Tories against the living wage.
“Only Scottish Labour will stand up for hundreds of thousands of low paid Scots. We will establish a National Living Wage Strategy to target sectors where the living wage would make a real positive impact. We will support that strategy with a Living Wage Unit. We will make work pay with incentives for private employers and we will ban exploitative zero hour contracts.
“It is time to make work pay, and only Scottish Labour are determined to make it happen