Scottish Government could take action on zero hours contracts in procurement

Today at First Minister’s Questions Scottish Labour spokesperson for Finance, Jobs and Fair Work Rhoda Grant asked the First Minister what action the Government would take since 1 in 20 households who use foodbanks have an unstable income due to self-employment or zero-hours contracts.

In response the First Minister claimed the issue was out of the hands of the Scottish Government due to employment law being a reserved matter.

When Mrs  Grant challenged the First Minister to use the Scottish Government’s powers of public procurement to end the scandal of zero-hours contracts being used by private agencies contracted by the public sector the First Minister again evaded the question and responded with rhetoric.

The fact of the matter is that the Scottish Government’s powers of public procurement allow it to outlaw the giving of contracts to any and all private contractors that employ people on zero-hours.

Commenting on the First Minister’s evasive response Mrs Grant, who also represents the Highlands and Islands, said:

“The First Minister’s shameful response to my question is yet another example of the SNP refusing to be straight with the Scottish public and refusing to use the powers they already have.

“The SNP could today outlaw the use of zero-hour contracts by companies contracted by the state but they refuse to do so. Why? Simply because it does not fit in to their narrative of grievance.

“The SNP may vacillate on this issue, but Labour won’t. A Scottish Labour executive in Holyrood elected in 2021 would commit to using the powers of public procurement to end this practise and a Labour Government elected this December would eliminate the scourge of zero-hour contracts entirely.

“The SNP offer the people of Scotland nothing. Labour promises to bring about, in Scotland and throughout the UK, the real and lasting change this country needs.”

  • In the chamber Mrs Grant said:

“What action the Scottish Government is taking in response to reports that one in 20 households that use food banks has an unstable income due to self-employment or being on a zero-hour contract.”

  • Her follow up question to the FM was:

“It is clear the First Minister is failing the workers of Scotland. We have seen a ten per cent rise in the number of people employed on zero hour contracts, reaching a staggering 70,000 workers. It is simply not enough to promote fair work, the government must act upon it. Public procurement is one of the opportunities to end insecure work. Will the First Minister act now to outlaw zero hours contracts when procuring services from the private sector and make it a stipulation of every contract?”