Rural and Environment
Fair Work key to new South of Scotland Enterprise agency
Economy Ministers in the Scottish Government share a common aim – to deliver a more economic prosperity to more of Scotland’s people and communities through inclusive growth.
Fair work sits at the heart of our approach. If, as I hope, the bill to create a South of Scotland enterprise agency passes this Wednesday, it will lead the way in taking forward statutory duties to fair work.
The amendments I have laid give Scottish Ministers the power to direct the new agency on fair work so that we can make clear government’s expectations of what the new agency should deliver. South of Scotland has long been a region with low pay and a persistent gap between what women and men are paid – these are two areas we might expect the agency to focus on in its early years, making work fairer but also boosting productivity and incomes in the area.
Effective voice is one of the key dimensions of the Scottish Government’s fair work action plan. Dialogue is key to this – employees’ views should be sought out and listened to results in respectful workplaces and the possibility for real change – potentially improving the experience of work as well as business performance.
My amendment to create a workers’ committee will ensure that the interests of people who work in South of Scotland are considered by the agency in all that it does.
And by including provision for the agency’s board members to be able to demonstrate skills, knowledge or experience of work will help ensure we are doing all we can to establish a diverse and more representative board for the South of Scotland agency. By making knowledge or experience a criteria for board members allows young people too to be considered. We will be using a wide range of platforms and media to make sure young people see the adverts for these appointments and are encouraged to put themselves forward.
Putting fair work measures into law will make the new South of Scotland agency an exemplar on this key government priority for the economy. It will also add real impetus to our ambition for Scotland to become a world-leading fair work nation by 2025. . In real terms that means that by 2025 the people of Scotland will have a world-leading working life where fair work drives success, wellbeing and prosperity for individuals, businesses, organisations and society. That means that employers must consider factors like gender balance and pay equality, payment of the real Living Wage, the fair employment of workers of all ages, investment in skills and training, and genuine workforce engagement.
Our target is that by the end of this Parliament, we will have extended Fair Work criteria to as many funding streams and business support grants as we can. We will also extend the range of Scottish Government and public sector contracts that fair work criteria will apply to – developing our ‘Fair Work First’ approach with trade unions, business and the public sector.
And collectively, these statutory measures as well as the other actions we are taking to encourage fair work send a strong message to the people and communities of south of Scotland, from Drummore to Eyemouth and all towns and villages in between.
We promised a fresh approach to establishing an enterprise agency for South of Scotland – and this Government is doing all it can to deliver that.