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'Only' 63 firms sign up

Scottish business pledge has ‘backfired’ says Fraser

Sturgeon and MackayNicola Sturgeon’s attempt to persuade businesses to sign up to a list of pledges on wages and working conditions has been branded a failure after winning support from only a handful of companies.

Just 63 firms have put their names to the Scottish Business Pledge, launched in a fanfare of publicity in May, as a “partnership” between government and business.

Firms must commit, over time, to meeting nine principles including new standards on zero hours contracts, introducing the living wage, and ensuring a gender balance.

The First Minister claimed it would take Scotland on the road to “delivering a flourishing and fair society”. She said it help spur productivity and make Scotland more competitive.

But since Ms Sturgeon made her speech, in the presence of Heart of Midlothian owner Ann Budge at Tynecastle Stadium, just 0.02% of the nation’s 335,000 private firms have offered their support.

Scottish Conservative enterprise spokesman Murdo Fraser (left) says the exercise has been a waste of time and money.

Murdo FraserHe told a Sunday newspaper: “The SNP seem to have invested a lot of time, money and effort into their pledge which has backfired spectacularly.

“After an all singing all dancing PR launch, it is an embarrassment to the Scottish Government that only 63 businesses have signed up to the scheme.

“Firstly this was to be a compulsory scheme, then it was made voluntary, now we know that hardly anyone is participating.

“This is yet more evidence that this SNP Government simply doesn’t understand business.”

Signatories announced on the day included Hearts,  Agenor, GSK, Virgin Money, Hymans Robertson; Strata Cleaning and LogicNow.

A Scottish Government spokesman told the Sunday Express: “The Scottish Business Pledge is already a success and we are encouraged by the enthusiasm of the business sector to share our vision of an innovative, entrepreneurial Scotland that grows in a fair and sustainable way.

“In the two months since the Pledge launched, over 60 companies have signed up, from multinationals like Coca Cola, Microsoft and GlaxoSmithKline to small and medium sized companies with ambitions to grow and invest in their workforce – that’s an employer in Scotland signing up every day. We are confident that many more will follow.

“We are committed to boosting productivity and the international competitiveness of the business environment in Scotland.”

Photo: Ms Sturgeon talking to Ian Mackay of the Institute of Directors Scotland at the launch of the pledge (by Terry Murden)

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