• Wednesday, June 12, 2024


Sarwar admits he was wrong about family firm not paying real living wage

Sarwar said, ‘I gave what I thought to be a correct answer, it has proven not to be the case.’ (Photo: Getty Images)

By: Vivek Mishra

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has admitted he was wrong in saying his family’s business doesn’t pay the real living wage.

This revelation came after criticism following his interview on BBC’s The Sunday Show.

The trade union representing workers at United Wholesale confirmed that they are paid above the real living wage.

Sarwar said, “I gave what I thought to be a correct answer, it has proven not to be the case.”

Sarwar, who relinquished shares in United Wholesale, said that he has no involvement or shares in the business and lacks information about it. He mentioned recent pay negotiations that ensured all staff received an income higher than the living wage.

At an election campaign event, he told BBC Scotland News: “I made clear I have no involvement in this business. I have no shares in this business and actually the evidence has shown I don’t have the information on this business.”

On Sunday night, the Usdaw union stated recent pay negotiations ensured all staff received an income higher than the living wage.

Following criticism from the SNP, Sarwar cited a report in the Scottish Sun from last year that the party had hired leafleters via a third party firm which allegedly used zero-hours contracts. He also mentioned former minister Michael Matheson’s £11,000 data roaming bill, originally paid from the public purse, and a police investigation into SNP finances.

“If there are questions of integrity to be answered here then it’s by the SNP,” Sarwar said.

When asked if the SNP paid its workers the living wage, First Minister John Swinney told BBC Scotland News: “We pay our party headquarters staff the living wage. Yes.”

In his BBC interview on Sunday, Sarwar outlined Labour’s plans for new minimum pay rates linked to the cost of living. The real living wage rate, advocated by the Living Wage Foundation, is currently set at £12 across the country and £13.15 in London. This is 56p more than the current national minimum wage, introduced by Labour in their 1997 election manifesto.

When asked if the wholesale business run by his family currently paid the real living wage, Sarwar said: “I don’t believe that every single staff member is on the real living wage. But I know there have been significant increases in the wage after negotiations with Usdaw, their trade union. Every business, including that one, will have to comply with the new deal for working people which will deliver a genuine living wage right across the country.”

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