An estimated six thousand workers in the Argyll and Bute Council area are paid less than the living wage, according to a new report.
Figures from acountancy firm KPMG show that more than one in five (21.6 per cent, to be exact) of Argyll and Bute’s working population of 29,000 are paid less than £7.65 an hour.
That percentage is likely to increase in the light of this week’s news that the living wage in Scotland is to rise to an hourly rate of £7.85 from April 1, 2015.
Labour Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart said the figures should “act as a wake up call” to politicians on the issue.
“It is time to get serious about better pay for workers in Argyll and Bute, and across Scotland,” Mr Stewart said.
“Hundreds of thousands of Scots are living in working poverty. An estimated six thousand workers in the Argyll and Bute Council area are earning less than the living wage.
“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 delver 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.
“Campaigners across Scotland got plenty of experience this summer arguing for what they believe in. I believe in better pay and conditions for working people in the Highlands and across Scotland.
“Promoting the living wage where it will make a difference is a step towards a better nation. It is time to make work pay.”
The SNP voted down Labour’s attempts to make the living wage part of all public sector contracts in Scotland in a vote at Holyrood in May, citing concerns that the move could break European law and leave public bodies open to legal action.
KPMG’s report found that the economic sectors with the lowest median hourly rate in Scotland, excluding overtime, were:
Food and beverage service activities (72,000 workers, £6.42 per hour)
Accommodation (30,000 workers, £6.92 an hour)
Gambling and betting activities (8,000 workers, £7.09 an hour)
Retail trade, except motor vehicles and motorcycles (182,000 workers, £7.28 an hour)
Services to buildings and landscape acivities (34,000 workers, £7.57 an hour).