FMQS: Sturgeons Loses Cool Over Public Procurement
The First Minister came under fire at today’s First Minister’s Questions over the Scottish Government’s record on public procurement, and its willingness to enforce ethical business practices from the firms it tenders contracts to.
In 2015, the Scottish Government began a voluntary ‘Scottish Business Pledge’ scheme, whereby employers could “adopt fair and progressive business practices in support of our shared ambition to improve business competitiveness and productivity while tackling inequalities.”
However, the Scottish Labour leader, Richard Leonard, pointed out that all the main contractors that the Scottish Government uses on public construction schemes have failed to sign up to the pledge, and indeed in many cases are acting in exploitative and underhand ways towards their own workers.
In the case of one company, workers were charged up to £100 pounds per week in order to be eligible to claim their wages. These large contractors together are currently receiving millions of pounds from the Scottish Government on publicly funded contracts.
The SNP government claim that it is not an issue of public contracting, but rather the state of current employment law. This is disputed by trade unions.
Scottish Labour had previously called for a review of public procurement in Scotland, amid concern about exploitation of workers on these public contracts.
The Scottish Labour leader said:
“The SNP government is handing over millions of pounds of public money to these companies and they are treating workers shamefully.
“Redacted pay slips from workers on the flagship Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route project show that they were being charged for the privilege of being paid.
“Workers have been blatantly exploited on a contract funded by the SNP government. SNP ministers now must take steps to ensure this never happens again.”