News that a living wage for private-sector workers engaged on public contracts is "unlikely" to comply with EU law will come as a blow to the private and voluntary workforce – but it doesn't have to be a fatal one (Europe snubs Government bid for private-sector living wage, News, July 29).
Surely it's for Scotland's infrastructure secretary Alex Neil, rather than a European commissioner, to decide what constitutes best value for taxpayers' money? After all, Mr Neil was elected on a pledge of a living wage. UNISON has long campaigned for the living wage to be extended throughout the public service workforce, including the private and voluntary sector. And, despite the Scottish Government implementing a living wage for its directly employed staff, a number of councils across Scotland have yet to follow their lead – although a clear majority of Scotland's councillors were elected on platforms which included the living wage.
Mr Neil says public bodies should still encourage contractors to pay a higher rate in their procurement processes. Well, he needs to make sure every public body does just that. The Sustainable Procurement Bill currently before Scottish Parliament provides the opportunity for change. The London Living Wage has operated since 2005. If Boris Johnson can do it, so can the Scottish Government.
Scottish Secretary, UNISON
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