A NEW industrial relations body made up of trade unions and employers is among 30 recommendations of a major report on improving workplace relations and productivity.

The Scottish Government has welcomed the report produced by an independent group led by former Government minister Jim Mather.

Recommendations also include bringing forward legislation to ensure worker representation on the boards of public sector bodies.

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It further suggests assigning responsibility for industrial relations to a Cabinet minister, and using procurement powers to encourage "progressive practices" such as paying the living wage in the private and third sectors.

Youth and Women's Employment Secretary Angela Constance said: "Scotland has had a consistently strong trade union voice dating back decades, something we should be very proud of. I want to see that voice enhanced with the trade union movement continuing to be a key contributor to Scotland's economic success."

Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser questioned the proposal to establish a new industrial relations body.

He said: "The review proposes the establishment of a new independent body to lead joint work by unions, employers and government. While this may have some merit, do we really need another quango to take this forward?"

Grahame Smith, general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress and a member of the Working Together review group, said: "I hope the findings dispel some of the myths about the role of unions and the nature of industrial relations in Scotland and will provoke action by government, employers and unions that will develop and extend the considerable amount of good practice that already exists."