MILLIONAIRE Scottish Labour leadership contender Anas Sarwar is under pressure over jobs which were advertised at his family’s firm for less than the “real” living wage.

Recruits were offered £7.50 an hour last month for a 45-hour week at the hugely-profitable United Wholesale (Scotland) Ltd, in which Sarwar has a multi-million pound stake.

The low wage is less than the £8.45 an hour backed by anti-poverty groups. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has also pledged to introduce a £10 an hour minimum wage if the party comes to power.

SNP MSP Clare Haughey said: "Despite his bluster, even employees of the Sarwar family firm don't get a fair day's pay for a fair day's work. In practice Anas Sarwar's style is more profiteering for the few, not the many.”

In a statement, Sarwar said: “I am a minority shareholder in United Wholesale Scotland, not a director, and play no active part in the running of the company – and never have. I strongly believe all companies should pay the real living wage, and have received assurances that UWS has an ambition and desire to pay it.”

Sarwar, a former deputy leader of Scottish Labour, is up against Holyrood colleague Richard Leonard to become Kezia Dugdale’s successor.

However, the Glasgow MSP has attracted negative publicity over his wealth and his decision to send his children to an elite, fee-paying private school.

He is now facing questions about the commitment of UWS to ending low pay for its workers.

The National Living Wage for over 25 year olds, introduced by the Tory Government, stands at £7.50 an hour, but the “real” living wage is an independently-set hourly rate calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK.

The calculation is done by Resolution Foundation, overseen by the Living Wage Commission and is currently £8.45 an hour. Scottish Government staff are guaranteed the higher amount.

The Government also funds the Scottish Living Wage Accreditation Initiative, which encourages private sector firms and other bodies to pay £8.45 an hour.

Since the scheme came into being, hundreds of organisations and individuals have been accredited and done their bit to end poverty pay. However, UWS has not signed up to it.

In July, Sarwar wrote a piece for a Labour-supporting website outlining his strong belief in fair pay.

“We can appeal with a programme for government built around fair pay and worker’s rights, scrapping of the public sector pay cap which has seen worker’s incomes eroded and a real living wage in the private sector,” he wrote.

However, in August jobs were being offered at the family cash and carry business for less than the “real” living wage. On the Universal Jobmatch website four full-time jobs for pickers and packers at UWS were advertised at only £7.50 an hour.

CATCH UP: The original Sunday Herald story on Anas Sarwar using a private school

After this newspaper called UWS a staff member confirmed the £7.50 rate and said the closing date had not passed.

During the General Election campaign Dugdale dismissed warnings that the £10 an hour minimum wage could harm the economy: “The truth is our businesses can afford to pay a little more so that workers aren’t paid a poverty wage.”

Jackie Baillie, a Labour MSP who is backing Sarwar, criticised the Scottish Government in July after only a tiny number of firms north of the border signed up to the accreditation scheme: “The SNP has only convinced 0.2 per cent of Scottish business to sign up to this flagship scheme, with only 3.5 per cent of Scottish jobs covered by it,” she said.

According to the 2015 UWS accounts the Sarwar family firm reported £227 million in turnover and made a post-tax profit of £1.7m. The company was worth around £11.6m in 2015, which means Sarwar’s stake was valued at nearly £2.5m at the time. He is not an UWS director.

A UWS spokesperson said: “United pays all its workers the UK government’s living wage or more, but we support the principle of a real living wage and have committed to work towards it for all employees. We would like it to be mandatory so that we can move towards it sooner and ensure that every company pays it - creating a level playing field in our highly competitive market.”