Almost 1,000 Scots government staff on less than Living Wage
By Keith Aitken in Edinburgh | 26 July 2011
Labour has accused the Scottish Government of failing to
live up to a promise to pay all its employees at least the ‘Living Wage’, the
minimum income campaigners say is needed for a decent quality of life. Figures
secured through Freedom of Information requests show that almost 1,000 staff
earn less than the £7.15-an-hour figure.
These staff are spread across a range of departments and
agencies, including the court service, the prison service and Scottish Natural
Heritage, and cover both direct government employees and contractors’ staff.
The figures were unearthed by Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale, who
said: ‘The Scottish Government directly controls the pay packets of thousands
of Scots through its various agencies, bodies and sub-contracting arrangements,
yet they are failing to utilise the significant powers they have. There is no
excuse for inaction.
‘If the Scottish National Party government are serious about
the Living Wage then they have got to lead by example. Otherwise, what hope
have we got of the private sector following suit?’
The figures contrast with January’s Scottish Government
Public Sector Pay Guide, which echoed SNP election promises by declaring: ‘The
policy intention is that the employer of every worker whose pay is controlled
directly by the Scottish Government will meet the living wage target for £7.15
Covering 45 public bodies, the figures identify 517 direct
employees and 417 contractor staff earning less than the Living Wage.
These totals are incomplete, with Labour claiming that lack
of detailed records leaves some figures lower than they should be. But the totals also include
probationers, trainees and groups for whom wage rises to above £7.15 have
already been agreed.
The most conspicuous under-payer is the tourism agency
VisitScotland, shown to have 291 direct employees and nine contractor staff
paid below Living Wage.
David Anderson, head
of human resources at VisitScotland, told Public
Finance that the organisation would uprate the pay of the staff concerned
over the next few months to comply with the Living Wage policy.
He said: ‘Every
year we submit a request on staff pay awards to the Scottish Government. For
this year that means complying with updated government policy on the Living
Wage. We will award the updated wage to all affected permanent members of
staff over the coming months.’