This week I spoke in the debate on employment and set out the levels of unemployment and underemployment, the extent of low wages, and poor terms and conditions that exist. These are the major challenges for Scotland if we are to tackle both inequality and poverty in order to create a fairer and more just society.
Scottish Labour’s ambition is that everyone who can work must be given the skills and support to work, to earn a wage, to have decent terms and conditions and join the majority of the population where having a job and going to work is the norm.
I am always reminded that throughout the history of the Labour and Trade Union movement, the Jarrow marchers, the UCSW sit in and the many struggles of workers, that these people did not march and protest for benefits, they marched for jobs. Today, whilst I oppose the Tory welfare reforms which are ill considered and drive hundreds of thousands into absolute poverty, I am clear that the answer can never be social security benefits, the answer is jobs.
I am increasingly angry at the failure of the SNP government in Edinburgh to even attempt to tackle the growing issue of deep rooted social deprivation and exclusion of a section of the Scottish population and I will never accept that the level of our ambition for sections of the population is to top up their benefits.
I am committed to working with all political parties, trade unions, business and industry, local government and community organisations to achieve this goal, to address poverty pay and to create the kind of society that we can be truly proud of.
You can watch my full speech here: