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MSPs told of cruel 'pay and conditions' trap faced by Scottish workers

21 Aug 2015

Scotland’s workforce are caught in a cruel trap of low incomes and poor working conditions, according to new evidence published today (Friday) by Citizens Advice Scotland.

In a report to the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Tourism committee, CAS reveals that the numbers of employment cases seen by Scottish CABs has risen by 12% in the last four years, and is now at its highest level ever. The most common cases include low pay, with-held wages, as well as unfair dismissal, bullying, exploitation, racism and discrimination.

While workers rights are being ignored, new fees for Employment Tribunals are causing problems for many people on low incomes who feel unable to challenge unfair treatment.

Delivering the report to the Scottish Parliament, CAS spokesman Rob Gowans says:

“We have been publishing CAB evidence for some time showing that workplace problems are increasing in Scotland. The Scottish Parliament’s Economy committee has set up this inquiry and invited evidence on the issue, so we are pleased to present that today.

“What our report shows is the collected evidence of all the work-related cases that people have brought to the Scottish CAB service over the last few years. While we don’t give away the identities of any of our clients, our evidence shows real-life experience. There is a growing crisis of low pay and poor conditions in Scotland.

“Around half of Scots who are in poverty are actually working. This reflects the fact that the minimum wage is not in fact keeping up with inflation, and many of the benefits that are meant to supplement low wages are being cut. With wages falling in real terms, families are becoming trapped in poverty, less secure terms and working hours, and with basic employment rights becoming harder to enforce.

“The second part of the problem is that too many rogue employers are using this environment to exploit their workers, and deny them basic rights. The growth in Zero Hours contracts has become a huge problem, which leaves thousands of Scots in huge financial uncertainty. And meanwhile it is becoming harder than ever to challenge unfair treatment.  

“While we are pleased the committee is focusing on these issues, we want to stress the urgency. People deserve a fair wage and decent working conditions. In our report today we are calling for action by both the UK and Scottish governments to bring that about.”

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