Fair Work (Support for Public Bodies)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 24 May 2023.

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Photo of Pam Duncan-Glancy Pam Duncan-Glancy Labour

6. To ask the Scottish Government how it is supporting public bodies to implement fair work principles. (S6O-02265)

Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Scottish National Party

Public bodies and their spending power are key to making Scotland a leading fair work nation. We have developed fair work first guidance to support all employers, which includes specific advice for public bodies.

We have engaged extensively with public bodies on removing barriers for racialised minorities, following the Scottish Parliament Equalities and Human Rights Committee’s 2020 report into race equality, employment and skills.

We recognise the important dual role that public bodies play as employers and stewards of public funds. Working with Scottish Enterprise, we have developed an online support tool for employers, to benchmark fair work practices and to receive tailored advice and resources.

Photo of Pam Duncan-Glancy Pam Duncan-Glancy Labour

Colleges are public sector organisations, so they are expected to abide by the principles of fair work, too. City of Glasgow College is undertaking a series of compulsory redundancies in the absence of any guidance on good higher education governance. For weeks, the website has said that the publication is imminent. When will that guidance be published?

Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Scottish National Party

I hope that that will come forward in due course.

For Labour to be taken seriously on fair work, it must be consistent.

Although Pam Duncan-Glancy is, quite rightly, standing up for employees at City of Glasgow College, on Monday at Westminster we had the spectacle of more than 30 Labour Party members abstaining from the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill. It is no wonder that no one knows where Labour stands even on workers’ rights when Sir Keir Starmer could not even be there to vote on that bill, including on an amendment that would have seen Scotland being exempted from that legislation.

Photo of Maggie Chapman Maggie Chapman Green

Interesting developments in the fair work space are happening around the world, including mechanisms to break contracts and withdraw funding if poor labour

conditions, data breaches or environmental offences are identified. Those include Germany’s Act on Corporate Due Diligence to Prevent Human Rights Violations in Supply Chains, which holds companies legally responsible for human rights abuses in the supply chain. The cabinet secretary will know well my support for tight pay ratios to close inequality gaps. With the devolved powers that Scotland has, what more can we do to ensure that public money does not go to those with wide pay ratios and those who do not pay sick pay and holiday pay for hourly contracted staff?

Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Scottish National Party

With employment law being reserved, there are limits on the actions that we can take. However, we are committed to using all the levers that are available in order to drive fair work across Scotland. We already apply fair work first criteria to effect the positive change that we want to see through public sector funding. In the Bute house agreement and the national strategy for economic transformation, we committed to developing our approach to conditionality within the constraints of devolved competence, which will be a key focus for the next phase, when the real living wage and effective worker voice conditionality in grants is fully rolled out after July. Public sector funding should lever wider benefits, including the promotion of fair work, to support a sustainable and successful wellbeing economy over the long term.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Question seven has been withdrawn.