Covering business in the parliamentary chamber as well as individual committees and cross-party groups from the last fortnight
06.11.12: Freshlink Factory (Closure)
John Mason (SNP) asked the Scottish Government what support will be provided to staff at the Freshlink factory in Shettleston, who have been told that the factory is closing and moving its business to England.
Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism Fergus Ewing said: “The Scottish Government will do everything that it can through its partnership action for continuing employment— PACE—initiative to help those employees of Freshlink who are facing redundancy. Through providing a tailored package of skills development and employability support, PACE aims to minimise the time that people affected by redundancy are out of work. Delivery of PACE support is led by Skills Development Scotland, with partners that include the Department for Work and Pensions and Glasgow City Council.
“I will visit the Freshlink factory on Friday with Councillor McAveety and PACE officials. We will meet employee representatives and the management of the company to discuss the tailored package of support for employees that our local Glasgow PACE team stands ready to deliver.” Mason added: “I thank the minister for his reply and for the fact that both the Government and Glasgow City Council are putting so much effort into helping the employees now that the decision has been made. Can the minister confirm that considerable assistance was offered to Freshlink by Glasgow City Council, the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and Clyde Gateway among others, but that the company has shown little enthusiasm for finding a solution that would let it continue in Glasgow?”
Ewing said he could. He added: “John Mason is aware of that because he, Drew Smith, Margaret Curran, Councillor McAveety, Baillie Liz Cameron and I all worked on the stakeholder group that met on four separate occasions. The First Minister himself chaired the last stakeholder meeting. I can advise members that the offer that was made to the company to retain its presence in Scotland was at the maximum allowable level for regional selective assistance. That was accepted by all stakeholders from different parties who worked together to try to persuade the company to stay in Glasgow. Unfortunately, those efforts were unsuccessful, but that was not because of the offer, which was at the absolute maximum. To answer John Mason’s other question, we recognise that Clyde Gateway does excellent work, which will most certainly continue with our support.” Mason thanked the minister for the reassurance, especially about his continuing support for Clyde Gateway, which has been one of the players.
07.11.12: Living Wage Week
MSPs debated a motion in the name of Labour’s Kezia Dugdale, on Living Wage Week. Dugdale was unable to attend the debate, so John Park opened the discussion on her behalf.
The motion debated read: “That the Parliament is committed to promoting a society where work pays; finds it unacceptable that in-work poverty continues to be a scourge, perpetuating societal ills such as poor health and child poverty, with six out of 10 children in poverty from families where at least one parent is in work; welcomes recent analysis, which it considers encouraging, by the IPPR and the Resolution Foundation, which estimated for the first time the wage bill for UK companies listed on the London Stock Exchange when paying staff a living wage; acknowledges what it considers the tireless work of the Scottish Living Wage Campaign and the trade union movement to make a living wage a reality for many public sector workers in Scotland; welcomes the advent of the annual Living Wage Week, taking place from 4 to 10 November, and looks forward to events promoting the benefits and ideals of a living wage for all; congratulates those local authorities that have delivered a living wage to their employees and notes the commitment of other councils, including the City of Edinburgh Council, to do so; welcomes the Scottish Government’s commitment to maintaining the relevance of a living wage for staff covered by its pay policy by uprating it; understands that it has committed to continuing to do so and notes the work outstanding to make the living wage a reality for all public sector employees, and hopes that the tide of support for the living wage will set a precedent too strong for private employers to ignore.”
Park said: “If we had had this debate two or three years ago, anyone who was opening the debate would have had to spend some time explaining exactly what the living wage is. It is testament to the Scottish living wage campaign, and perhaps a recognition of the work that we have done here in the Scottish Parliament to advance the issue, that the living wage is now fully understood by people not just in this Parliament but in our communities throughout Scotland. Living Wage Week is a big part of ensuring that that understanding is acted upon and that it mobilises people in communities and workplaces, as well as here in the Scottish Parliament, to ensure that the living wage—and, indeed, the existence of living wage employers—becomes more prevalent over the coming years.
“The campaign has perhaps unparalleled political support. Who would have thought that this week we would see the Scottish Government announce a significant rise in the living wage? The living wage is supported by many local authorities, by Boris Johnson and by Ed Miliband—support for it cuts across the political divide—and even David Cameron has described it as an idea whose time has come. That support is due not just to the campaign but to the strong and solid business case that sits behind the living wage. Living wage employers now recognise that it is beneficial to their business.”
08.11.12: Street Traders’ Licences (Funfairs)
Richard Lyle (SNP) asked the Scottish Government whether it considers that separate street traders’ licences should be obtained for food stalls that operate within the confines of funfairs that have been granted a public entertainment licence.
Minister for Local Government and Planning Derek Mackay said the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 does not require a separate street trader’s licence for an activity already licensed under a public entertainment licence. However, he added: “Local licensing authorities enjoy wide discretion in how they administer local licensing regulations and can apply the law to the specific facts and circumstances of individual cases.” Lyle then asked if the minister agreed that local authorities should not insist that a separate street trader’s licence be obtained for food stalls that are operated within the confines of a funfair.
Mackay added: “I advise Mr Lyle that local government has the discretion to deploy the law in the way that I outlined—it will depend on local circumstances as to what is appropriate. I of course encourage local authorities to act proportionately in delivering simplified and streamlined light-touch regulation while looking after both health and safety and proper hygiene. However, I remind the member that it is a matter for local authorities to determine, as long as they operate within the law. The member is perfectly entitled to offer a council appropriate advice.”