As the cost of living rises, introducing the Real Living Wage has never been more needed
By having the powers over employment laws, Scotland could – and would – increase the minimum wage and strengthen protections for workers.
There can be no denying that the only way to secure a strong, fair and equal recovery from the pandemic is for Scotland to have full control over all political issues. In order to do that, Scotland must become an independent country.
With the full powers of independence, every political decision made by our democratically elected politicians would be in the best interest of the people of Scotland. This is not the situation we currently find ourselves in – as we continue to suffer under Westminster control.
During this Challenge Poverty Week, I felt it was important to discuss the potential of an independent Scotland’s employment laws – a power that is currently reserved to Westminster.
By having the powers over employment laws, Scotland could – and would – increase minimum wage rates, strengthen protections for workers with unfair contracts, introduce rights to flexible working, make major improvements to parental leave and pay, have stronger protections against redundancy discrimination, and prevent a post-Brexit race to the bottom on workers’ rights.
Too many young people find themselves earning less than their older colleagues despite doing the same amount of work
These are the goals and aspirations of the SNP and of an independent Scotland; goals that, unfortunately, will never be achieved whilst being shackled to the chains of Boris Johnson’s Tory government.
The SNP has long called on the UK government to also increase the National Minimum Wage and Statutory Sick Pay in line with the Real Living Wage, and make Statutory Sick Pay available to all.
We have also called on the removal of age discrimination when it comes to the Minimum Wage rates as too many young people find themselves earning less than their older colleagues despite doing the same amount of work. Sadly though, these calls have been ignored time and time again.
The SNP continue to champion the idea of a Real Living Wage within all organisations across Scotland. It is an initiative that the Scottish government introduced to its staff in 2015 - the first government within the UK to do so.
However, with the full powers of independence we could go further by increasing the minimum wage to that same level.
The idea behind supporting the Real Living Wage is simple and clear; it is calculated, according to the basic cost of living, that it would enough for an individual to achieve the minimum living standards – something the SNP believe every individual should be entitled to if they work.
However, as the cost of living increases, the importance of introducing a Real Living Wage grows. A Real Living Wage would also be a drastic improvement on the current National Living Wage of £8.91 which applies to many workers in England and Wales.
An independent Scotland would also increase the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) in line with the Real Living Wage – something the UK government have failed to do.
Sadly though, without the full powers of independence, we will not achieve these goals. Instead, we will suffer at the hands of a Tory government that haven’t won an election in Scotland in seventy years.
It’s times for Scotland to chart its own course. It’s time for Scotland to re-join the world. It’s time for Scotland to become an independent country.
Chris Stephens is the SNP MP for Glasgow South West.
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