Speech from Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work
Jackie Baillie MSP to Scottish Labour Conference
Dundee, Saturday 10 March 2018
Conference, the public sector spends £11 billion pounds a year procuring goods and services. Billions are spent on construction projects.
That’s money that should support the delivery of public services, providing decent jobs and helping to grow the economy. But in all these areas we are being failed by the SNP.
Instead of growing the economy, Scotland is flirting with a recession. Productivity is down, industry after industry reports massive skills shortages, and growth is all but stagnant.
Instead of supporting the delivery of public services, the SNP outsource to umbrella companies like Carillion. Companies that have engaged in blacklisting of trade unionists. Companies who engage in poor employment practices. It is simply not good enough to say you are in favour of public services, when your actions undermine them.
Instead of investing in decent jobs, they are helping to line the pockets of directors and shareholders. Directors of failing companies whose eye watering bonuses and pensions are protected whilst former Carillion employees have the rug pulled out from under them.
Let me tell you about two Unite workers on Carillion Network Rail contracts.
The first one works on the Waverley Station extension. He is on a zero hours contract. He cannot take work elsewhere because the contract is exclusive. He has a young family and has been going without work for days and weeks at a time. He has had to claim Universal Credit.
The second works on the Shotts/Cleland electrification project. This is his experience:
“I wait for a text every Friday to say if I will be working the following week. I pay an umbrella company up to £100 a week to get my own wages. I have no holiday pay, no sick pay. I pay both employers and employees national insurance contributions”
Conference this is a national disgrace and Labour will end the exploitation of workers.
But conference, they are not alone.
The Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route has been plagued by allegations of bullying and harassment.
Health and safety staff have been undermined;
Agency workers regulations ignored;
and they use sub-contractors who employ gang masters.
These are contracts signed off in St. Andrew’s House leading to exploitation of the workers at Shotts;
These are decisions taken by the Transport Minister, leading to zero hours contracts at Waverley Station;
These are decisions taken by the Economy Secretary, leading to the use of sub-contractors with a history of using gangmasters.
This is the SNP supply chain. It’s Scottish taxpayers money that they are using to support the exploitation of Scottish workers and it has to end now. Conference only Labour will stop the exploitation of workers.
And then you have the troubled Scottish Futures Trust. Don’t let the SNP fool you – their method of financing construction projects is a variation of PPP. But private financing now costs more than borrowing through the public works loans board.
In fact it’s double the cost.
And the changes made to the Hub building programme mean there is
No cap on profits,
No procurement guidance
And a greater role for the private sector.
The result is more private ownership,
more private control, more private profit,
and less government accountability.
That’s the SNP for you.
Conference we need an immediate review of the Scottish Futures Trust. It is not delivering value for money, its delivering bigger profits from the private sector.
Labour will empower the public sector to deliver contracts in-house.
The SNP is not getting value for money. Just look at BiFab. There is at least £3billion invested in renewables but just a tiny proportion of that money stays in Scotland. As the GMB rightly say, if more of the supply chain and manufacturing was anchored in Scotland think about the jobs and investment our communities would benefit from.
But there is no planning, no joining things up. That’s the SNP and the Tories for you.
We need to get a bigger bang for our buck. We need nothing short of a whole scale review of procurement – construction projects, facilities management contracts, the lot.
Labour has a better way of doing things. We will make sure that:
Everyone on a public contract must be on the living wage.
No more bogus self employment so employers can save on national insurance costs.
No more zero hours contracts.
No more blacklisting.
No more insecure work and agency workers on poor terms and conditions.
No more umbrella companies.
Labour in government will deliver:
Decent jobs, secure jobs, well paid jobs.
That’s the difference a Labour Government will make in Scotland and in the UK.
That’s why we need Richard Leonard to be Scotland’s next First Minister because we know, it’s only Labour that will deliver for working people.