Monday 9th February 2015


Work can have a direct impact on our mental health and well-being, of this there is no doubt. Needless to say, people who are subject to poor working conditions and poor pay are far more likely to suffer from stress, anxiety and indeed, in some cases a sense of helplessness.

So it is with real concern that last week the Citizens Advice Bureau published a report showing that thousands of Scots are facing poor working practices.

They found over 45,000 instances of people working under unacceptable conditions. Non-payment of wages, unfair dismissal, denial of sick pay, zero hour contracts and bullying are just some of the examples highlighted by the organisation.

But if this wasn’t bad enough, I attended a recent debate in Parliament, sponsored by my Labour colleague Neil Findlay highlighting the plight of workers at the mercy of some of the biggest players in the construction industry.

These companies who have been awarded significant public contracts have come up with a new scam which is piling on the misery for workers.

The umbrella companies’ scam, as it has been called, involves passing on the costs of processing wages, employers’ national insurance and holiday pay onto workers. It has also resulted in workers receiving a significant reduction in their wages.

In light of what we have heard this week, it is clearly time that both the UK and Scottish Governments showed the political will and took action through legislation and procurement. Companies that don’t respect workers’ rights and conditions should not benefit from public contracts.

If we are to make Scotland a socially just place to live then we need to make work pay for all workers.