Nicola Sturgeon considering forcing Living Wage on grant recipients

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Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon is considering making government grants conditional on pay rises in the wake of the Amazon outcry.

The SNP leader was challenged at First Minister’s Questions over the major Fife employer refusing to pay the Living Wage, a year after her minister met with bosses to persuade them to do so.

The online giant, which has a distribution centre in Dunfermline, has received millions of pounds in Scottish Government grants since 2005 but has been criticised over the amount of tax it pays and the way it treats staff.

Jackie Baillie, the Labour MSP, said Economy Secretary Keith Brown’s meeting with Amazon chiefs had not produced the desired results.

“One year on, it is still not paying the real living wage and we have also seen reports of unacceptable working conditions.

“Companies such as Amazon receive substantial sums of public money.

“Will the First Minister consider linking future payments of regional selective assistance to payment of the living wage?”

Ms Sturgeon said she will “continue to give consideration to that”, adding that almost half of the job-boosting grants to Amazon came while Labour was in charge.

“We will continue to support employment creation,” she said.

“We will continue to encourage inward investors into Scotland, because that is good for our economy and good for jobs, but we will also continue to press the case for fair working practices, including the Living Wage.”

A spokesman for Amazon said: “Amazon is proud to be a significant contributor to the economy in Scotland, including investing hundreds of millions of pounds in our Scottish operations over the past five years and today supporting around 2,500 competitively paid jobs at our development centre and customer service centre in Edinburgh, and fulfilment centres in Gourock and Dunfermline.”