Unite calls on Scottish government to tackle zero hour...

Unite has called on the Scottish government to reform it’s public procurement agenda in order to tackle the rise of employment rights abuses across our economy

20 August 2013

In a letter to finance & employment secretary John Swinney, Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty has argued that the Scottish government can use its existing powers to curb contemporary employment problems like zero hours contracts and blacklisting.

Revelations that zero hour contracts of employment are being used by sub-contractors on the £300 million public- funded Borders Rail Link sparked more anger over their increasing prevalence across the Scottish and UK labour market and called into further question the ethics and practices of companies profiting from the Scottish purse.

Unite is also currently campaigning against the rail link’s key contractor BAM Nuttall for its role in the blacklisting of twenty-eight workers on the London Crossrail project.

Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said, “Zero hour contracts are a disgraceful employment practice that leaves workers in limbo – people don’t know if they have a job or income from one day to the next.

In the case of the Borders Rail Link, where £300 million of the Scottish public’s money is being invested, we have BAM Nuttall - a company already implicated in the Crossrail blacklisting scandal - happy for their sub-contractors to keep construction workers in employment purgatory while they pick massive profits from the public purse.

The Scottish government condemns employment rights abuses like zero hour contracts but also says it’s for the UK Government to sort out.  While it’s true the Scottish Government can’t end these practices, they do have the power to create minimum standards that all companies must adhere to when tendering for public contracts.

That’s why Unite is urging Mr Swinney to use the Procurement Reform Bill to tackle these modern employment rights abuses and to create a distinctly Scottish response to the wider erosion of employment rights across the rest of the UK.”

Unite previously called on the Scottish government to use the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Bill to introduce minimum standards to prevent known blacklisting companies tendering for publicly funded contracts.

Procurement reform can also create a living wage for workers employed on publicly funded contracts and deliver supported employment opportunities for disabled workers.


Notes to Editors: For further information please contact Peter Welsh in Unite Scotland’s campaigns & communications unit on 07810 157931 or 07903 874255 (after 6PM).