Workers in East Lothian need a pay rise. That’s the message from the county’s MSP and MP as new research shows an estimated 5,000 local workers are paid less than the living wage.

Iain Gray MSP said that the figures from accountancy firm KPMG, published during this year’s Living Wage Week (2-8 November), a UK-wide celebration of the living wage and living wage employers, should act as a wake-up call for politicians that the fight for fair pay is far from over.

Both Mr Gray and Fiona O’Donnell MP believe that for the living wage to make a difference to people in East Lothian it must be promoted in low paid professions such as cleaning, care, hospitality and retail. Labour-led East Lothian Council set a positive example in 2012 when they introduced the living wage for all council staff.

Iain Gray is now backing plans to establish a Living Wage Unit and a National Living Wage Strategy which will be accountable to the Scottish Parliament. The strategy will target specific job markets and areas to deliver a pay rise in jobs where it will make a real difference so that the living wage is the expectation, not the exception.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“It is time to get serious about better pay for workers in East Lothian and across Scotland. While East Lothian fares relatively well in comparison with many parts of Scotland, there are still an estimated 5000 workers in the county currently earning less than the living wage.

“Labour-led East Lothian Council has led the way by implementing the living wage for its staff. But the hospitality and retail industries employ thousands of people in dire need of a pay rise. A National Living Wage Strategy would be able to target and work with these industries to deliver a pay rise to workers who need it the most.

“The SNP were wrong to vote against the living wage, but I hope they see sense and work with Scottish Labour to help deliver better pay for workers across Scotland.”

Fiona O’Donnell MP added:

“I believe in better pay and conditions for working people in East Lothian and across Scotland, which is why I welcome Labour’s commitment to increasing and strengthening the minimum wage. But while it is important to ensure people are not exploited at work, it is also vital to ensure that we make work pay.

“The Tories love to talk about their long term economic plan but that plan isn’t working for thousands of working people in East Lothian. That’s why alongside strengthening the minimum wage we also need to promote the living wage where it will make a difference. By taking a comprehensive and focused approach to raising incomes we can help ensure that it is not only a wealthy minority who benefit as the economy grows.”

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