logo Member of Parliament for Glasgow East

Scotland, not the Tories, should determine workers' rights

Published on

For several years now, the Tories have been promising an Employment Bill which they have not brought forward.

The UK is in the grip of a cost-of-living crisis being fuelled by Brexit, the pandemic, and the war in Ukraine. Now more than ever, workers need action instead of empty promises.

Very urgent action is needed to address the catastrophe of the sharp rise in the cost-of-living and to reverse the shocking surge of in-work poverty which had already been on the rise for years before.

The Scottish Government's ability to tackle unfair working practices and fully protect workers' rights remains limited while employment law is reserved to Westminster.

Yesterday, in a debate secured by my SNP colleague Angela Crawley on devolving employment law to Scotland, myself and my colleagues made the case for Scotland to be able to determine the rights of its workers.

Even if the British Government's mythical Employment Bill does see the light of day, can we really expect it to strengthen rights and improve lives?

It isn't just the SNP that wishes to see Scotland have full power over employment legislation.

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) supports the devolution of all employment law to the Scottish Parliament. In their own words, "No worker is safe in the hands of a Tory UK Government".

The STUC is now justifiably worried that a Liz Truss government will not only continue the assault on trade unions, but could go much further by scrapping the EU Working Time directive, change holiday pay entitlement for all workers and alter mandatory rest breaks.

To its shame, the Labour Party refused to consider devolving employment law during the Smith Commission process which followed the 2014 independence referendum, preferring instead to continue allowing the Tories to set policy.

While the SNP will continue to demand tougher action from the UK Government until such time as Scotland has the necessary powers, the Scottish Government is taking action to address labour market inequalities using its Fair Work policy to promote fairer work practices across the labour market.

Our vision for Scotland of becoming a leading Fair Work Nation by 2025, where fair work drives success, wellbeing and prosperity for individuals, businesses, organisations and society, stands in stark contrast with the UK Government which seems determined to ensure that shareholders are protected over workers.

The Scottish Government believes that a progressive approach to industrial relations and an effective voice for workers such as through trades unions is at the heart of a fairer, more successful society. Meanwhile, the UK Government is determined to fight trade unions and oppose fair pay increases for low-paid workers.

The bottom line is this: Scotland cannot wait for Westminster to act and we cannot trust Westminster to do right by workers.

If we are to build a fairer society, one which protects and enhances hard-fought worker’s rights, Scotland needs the full powers of an independent country.

Watch the full video of my speech from yesterday's debate below:


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brexit employment