On Wednesday 11th January 2017, the Jimmy Reid Foundation gave oral evidence and delivered a written submission to the Scottish Affairs Committee of the UK Parliament to inform its current inquiry ‘Sustainable employment in Scotland’. The Inquiry is examining how employment in Scotland may change in the coming decades, how the UK Government will support the creation of quality, secure jobs. and is looking at how successful UK policy is in protecting people from unfair employment practices.
The Jimmy Reid Foundation highlighted the problems for workers and their families inherent to the current economic and social system, the threats from Brexit and global changes, and the dangers across Scotland and the UK from withdrawal of current employment rights. Solutions and new directions of travel were offered.
Professor Danson, who delivered the evidence, said:
‘The main argument made was that there is a need to address our long standing productivity problems and that requires a fundamental change in how skills, expertise and experiences of the workforce. Moving towards the high innovation-high wage-high productivity industrial model that has brought success to the Nordic countries and Germany requires a new strategic approach and paradigm. Sustainable employment must be based on utilising the high levels of skills in the workforce, too many of whom are currently under-employed in low wage and low skill jobs. By restructuring employment and industrial markets, the Scottish economy can go through a transition to a new equilibrium that works for all compared with the current state of waste, hopelessness and decline’.
He continued, saying:
‘The current precariousness of many jobs and careers is exacerbated for some by the growth of self-employment and enforced ‘entrepreneurship’. Without the protection of employment rights – with no maternity and paternity rights, no paid holidays, no employers’ pension contributions, and other basic elements of the normal work contract – these workers face insecure and unstable lives, with a bleak old age. With lower incomes, their taxes and NI contributions are lower than expected so that society suffers the consequences. Corporations, public and private, save on their costs, boost their short term profits but society is made poorer’.
Concluding, Professor Danson stated:
‘The Jimmy Reid Foundation is, therefore, calling for conditions to be applied to public procurement to raise standards in the labour market, to increase the number and quality of apprenticeships, to promote gender, BME and disability equality, to support SMEs in gaining access to subcontracting.
Complementing this, the Foundation has demanded that the Scottish Government’s Fair Work Framework is supported with legislation and regulation, requiring the devolution of employment law and all social security powers to the Scottish Parliament. This would allow Scotland’s economy to begin the transition to a high wage-high productivity-high innovation status with sustainable employment, and higher returns to investment. Other institutional initiatives and structural changes would be required, including a national investment bank, a refreshed development agency network, and stronger means to protect indigenous firms from hostile takeovers and monopoly practices’. The submission is available Submission SAC 11.01.17