It's about time we waged war on low pay


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It looks like it is going to be the big issue as we enter the real referendum campaign.

The Scottish Government and SNP has long said independence will allow for a more equal society, but a lot of the how has still to be explained. This week Labour Leader, Johann Lamont, and former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, declared equality was a prize best fought for on a UK level.

Their pitch about the UK providing poor laws, the NHS and education and the minimum wage in the 20th Century on a Britain-wide basis has some appeal.However, despite these achievements the UK was ranked the most unequal of all western nations by the UN last year, so something is still going awry.

Labour can claim during the Blair/Brown years they reduced pensioner and child poverty and introduced the National Minimum Wage and only the most ardent 'I'm All Right Jack' could deny they were achievements.

But in the years since, David Cameron and George Osborne would appear to have targets to push increasing numbers of people back into poverty.

The Labour/Tory revolving door at Westminster means any good work by one can quickly be undone by the other, no matter which side you prefer and what you consider to be good.

Which provides support for the independence argument that Scotland will always get the government it votes for. But you have to do that good work in the first place and this week's Welfare Expert Working group presented an opportunity for the Scottish Government to make a serious commitment to those on low pay.

The report recommended increasing the minimum wage to the Living Wage level, but once certain economic conditions were met. The minimum wage for over 21s is £6.31 while the Living Wage paid by councils and government departments is £7.65.

Why should a worker for a private firm working on a private contract get £1.34 an hour less than one on a public sector contract?

Westminster could increase it but while there is talk of the Tories upping to £7 an hour and Labour restoring it to pre financial crash values, nothing is certain, no commitment.

The living wage would pay £14,000 a year for a 35-hour week which would reduce the need for in work benefits. The Scottish Government said it would give it "careful consideration" and it no doubt will.

But no-one who was serious about a cause ever chanted: 'What do we want? Serious consideration! When do we want it? When economic conditions allow!'

The pledge to lower corporation tax isn't being given serious consideration when economic conditions allow. It is a commitment to reduce it by 3%.

Why can't workers on low pay get the same firm level of commitment?

Local government

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