4th October 2010
TIME FOR A LIVING WAGE
It landed with an ominous thud on my desk, hundreds of pages of doom and gloom.
It was the briefing ‘notes’ for a finance seminar I attended with Scotland’s top economists, academics and number-crunchers.
They had pulled together to outline the hard choices facing politicians as we try to pick our way through these straightened financial times.
It posed many difficult questions but unfortunately give us very little in the way of answers as we enter into a dark period.
We need to think long term about what cuts are fair, what cuts are necessary to sustain services and what cuts will only lead to more pain in the long run.
In responding to these difficult challenges, we must ensure that the sick, the elderly and the working poor do not pay the highest price.
That is why I welcomed the announcement this week that Labour leader Iain Gray is supporting the living wage campaign for workers on low pay.
At the same time, there was a pledge to introduce pay restraint for the highest earners in the public sector.
It isn’t fair that there people have to survive on low pay while top earners enjoy generous bonuses.
Nearly half a million workers in both the private and public sector earn less than the Scottish Living Wage of £7.15 per hour while bankers get extravagant add-ons and nearly 1,000 public servants earn more than the Prime Minister.
We have a difficult task in tackling the many challenges that face us but we have to ensure that fairness is at the heart of these decisions.