FMQs: Sturgeon Didn’t Meet Unions Over Agency Rip Off

At today’s First Minister’s Questions, Nicola Sturgeon attempted to defend the Scottish Government’s handling of outsourcing in government investment contracts, but in the process admitted to the fact that nobody from the Scottish Government or Transport Scotland had contracted the Trade Union representing the workforce at the Aberdeen bypass project.

Scottish Labour leader, Richard Leonard has previously accused the Scottish Government of not taking the investigation seriously.

In a series of questions at FMQs, Richard Leonard pointed out that:

“Your government has made no attempt to contact the Trade Union. Let’s be clear. This exploitation is not confined to just one contact. Isn’t it the case that you have no idea how widespread this practice is, on the public projects you fund?”

The Labour leader also produced documents showing that workers involved with the Edinburgh Waverley project were also being forced to pay for their wages.

First Minister claims agency workers are choosing not to be directly employed by subcontractors, and that the burden was with them, rather than the Scottish Government. She also apologised for not contacting the Trade Union involved, and promised to do so.

Richard Leonard “This is taxpayer's money exploiting workers, through unethical businesses, half a mile from this parliament, with Scottish Government money - it’s not good enough.

And you can do something about it… This parliament, and your government, should never underwrite the exploitation of working people.”

In response, Nicola Sturgeon said that “I couldn’t have been clearer that I deprecate the behaviour of agencies that Richard has outlined.”

"We do expect those who deliver public contracts to adopt ethical and fair business standards.”

The First Minister also came under attack from the Green Party leader, Patrick Harvie, for the new SNP administration at Glasgow City Council as being insufficiently interested in solving the problem of Glasgow’s illegally high levels of air pollution. He criticised Glasgow Council’s proposals as ‘painfully slow’, and pointed out that friends of the earth Scotland described the council’s plans as a “no ambition zone”.

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