The SNP Scottish Government has made it absolutely clear that they do not approve of zero hours contracts when employers deny workers – any workers – proper working terms and conditions which, in this day and age, all those in employment are entitled to expect.
The power to ban zero hours contracts resides with Westminster. However, where the SNP Scottish Government can take action, we have done so. The Scottish Government does not directly employ people on zero hours contracts, and continues to require all employees covered by the Public Sector Pay Policy to be paid the Living Wage.
There are now over 500 Scotland-based Living Wage accredited employers, and the SNP have set a new target of 1,000 to be achieved by Autumn 2017. This concerted action has resulted in Scotland having the second highest proportion of employees paid the Living Wage or more across the countries and regions of the UK, and the lowest proportion of employees on zero hour contracts of all the countries of the UK. This positive action stands in stark contrast to the lack of action by the former Labour UK Government, which presided over a 41% increase in the number of employees on zero hours contracts between 2005 and 2010.
The working practices of Sports Direct are a cause of great concern. Zero hour contracts are an appalling indictment of the poor working conditions for too many of our citizens. I am further concerned that with the vote to leave the EU, workers have been left hopelessly exposed to a Tory UK Government which has already sought to erode workers’ rights. Many of the rights currently enjoyed by workers in the UK are as a consequence of our EU membership.
Rest assured, that my SNP colleagues and I will continue to press for the protection of workers’ rights.