ANAS Sarwar has confirmed the family business in which he has a multi-million pound stake has no formal trade union recognition in place for its 250 workers.

The Scottish Labour leadership hopeful said no union had ever asked to set up a collective pay bargaining unit at United Wholesale (Scotland) since it was formed in 2001.

Labour’s general election manifesto in June said that if the party was in power it would ensure public contracts only went to companies meeting the “high standards we should expect of all businesses”, including “recognising trade unions”.

HeraldScotland:

Anas Sarwar. Photo credit: Getty images

The absence of trade union recognition at the firm, which was first revealed by the Herald, is likely to add to questions about the credibility of the centrist candidate.

Mr Sarwar, 34, is already under fire for sending his sons to a £10,000-a-year private school.

The Glasgow list MSP owns almost a quarter of the shares in UWS, a cash and carry giant which pays staff below the “real living wage” of £8.45 an hour promoted by Labour.

He is not a director and says he has no role in the the running of UWS.

Mr Sarwar repeatedly ducked questions about union recognition at the formal launch of his campaign at Gorbals Parish Church in Glasgow’s southside, however he finally gave a statement to the Herald.

He said: “I have consulted with UWS, and what they tell me is there are several members of their employee base who are members of trade unions.

“No trade union has requested recognition. But if any trade union did request formal recognition that of course would be welcomed by the company.”

Companies need not recognise unions, but a union can apply for compulsory recognition.

An SNP spokesperson said: "These damaging revelations about Anas Sarwar's business interests suggest he is more interested in making a big profit for himself than advancing the rights of working people.

"You cannot credibly claim to support a real living wage and trade union recognition for workers when you don't provide it at your own company."

HeraldScotland:

Anas Sarwar. Photo credit: Getty images

Earlier, Mr Sarwar stressed his electability over that of his Left-wing rival for the leadership, former GMB official Richard Leonard.

To underscore the point, his launch was in Nicola Sturgeon’s constituency, and he said Labour was “parking its tanks” on her lawn.

He said that if in power he wanted “to rescue the NHS on day one of a Labour government”, set up a commission to end the gender pay gap, and top up child benefit.

He said he was proud to defend “our United Kingdom” in the 2014 referendum, adding: “I’m scunnered with a politics that is inward-looking, angry, small and divided.”

Accompanied by his wife Furheen and three young sons, he also paid tribute to his mother, Parveen, who he described as his “political hero”, and who was present for the event.

Despite sending his children to Hutchesons’ Grammar, he also said he wanted to build a nation that ended “education inequalities”.

Ending with a thinly veiled attack on Mr Leonard and the Left, he said: “This contest is a choice between focusing on the past or building a fairer future.

“It’s a choice between protesting about the ills in our country or ending inequality in power.

“It’s a choice about continuing division or delivering unity in our party and our country.

“I’m not standing in this contest to be a Labour leader that just talks about creating opportunity, that just talks about ending poverty, that just talks about ending austerity.

“I want to deliver opportunity, fairness and equality as the First Minister of Scotland.”

Among those there to support him were millionaire Labour donor Lord Haughey and former MP Adam Ingram, who was Armed Forces Minister during the Iraq War.

Mr Leonard, 55, launches his campaign in Glasgow on Saturday with a call for “wholesale and radical change”.

He will say: “We need a completely new approach to tackle what appear to be the intractable problems in our housing system, of an inequality that pervades all aspects of Scottish Life.

“Only Labour, with radical leadership in Scotland and Jeremy Corbyn’s principled leadership across the UK, will deliver the real change needed to tackle social and economic problems.

“Twenty years since the devolution referendum we have every right to be angry.

“No wonder people are discontented. They are hungry for change. But the change they crave will find no answer in nationalism or patriotism, Scottish or British, and every answer in socialism and democracy.”