For immediate use: Thursday 29 April 2010
Attention: Newsdesks/Political correspondents
The SNP has exposed Scottish Labour's hypocrisy on low pay, following a debate on a Green Party motion in the Scottish Parliament today.
Rob Gibson, SNP MSP for Highland and Islands, who spoke in the debate, said:
"In Parliament today, Labour tried their usual smoke and mirrors attempt to distract from their own culpability on the issue of poverty pay.
"As they well know, the Scottish Government has no locus on private sector pay, which is reserved to Westminster - and which the Labour/Tory/Lib Dem Calman Commission would not devolve to Scotland. The SNP government has taken significant steps to improve public sector pay levels within the powers available to it, but without control over both private sector pay and the tax and benefits system, any Scottish administration is powerless to raise the take-home pay of the lowest paid workers, such as the majority of those in the hotel and restaurant sector.
"The SNP has commended the efforts of, for example, Glasgow City Council to set a minimum living wage of £7 an hour for its staff, but the fact that they have had to do so exposes the inadequacy of the minimum wage set by Labour at Westminster. Had Labour index-linked the minimum wage to earnings from the beginning, the rate would not have fallen so far behind the level that can be decently described as a living wage today.
"The SNP is fully committed to tackling poverty and income inequality and to making work pay. If Labour in Scotland are genuinely committed to the same, they should join with the SNP in demanding that the levers of power to address poverty pay are devolved to the Scottish government as soon as possible. Until they do, they will continue to let Scotland's lowest paid workers down."