The Scottish Government should require trade union recognition and an end to “precarious” employment practices when handing out public contracts, Patrick Harvie has said.
Speaking on the first day of the Scottish Green Party conference, the party’s co-leader set out a number of measures for a “green New Deal for Scotland’s workers”.
Mr Harvie also said ministers should encourage a shift to a four-day working week and collective wage bargaining.
Speaking via an online livestream, he told the conference: “There is no doubt that we could do more in Scotland with our £11 billion of public procurement every year.
“We need to be innovative and to push the boundaries so that we can go beyond encouragement, and require trade union recognition, no use of tax havens or precarious employment practices, and fair pay.”
Mr Harvie said companies around the world had trialled a four-day working week and found it had improved staff morale.
“The evidence shows time and time again that reducing working hours whilst maintaining pay increases productivity and wellbeing,” he said.
“It’s a win-win for workers and employers, and the only barrier to delivering it is habit, and in many workplaces a culture of presenteeism.
“For many, Covid is already forcing them to question this culture. Now is the time for us to deliver the change.”
Ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections next year, he said it is only the Scottish Greens who are committed to “redressing the imbalance of power between employers and workers”.
He said Scottish Labour are “scrapping with the Tories for a shrinking share of a declining anti-independence vote”, while trade unions have argued for a second independence referendum.
He added: “While Nicola Sturgeon will give TED talks about creating a wellbeing economy, she has never come close to saying what that really means, and the SNP isn’t standing up to the vested interests, challenging the decades-long dominance of a failed free-market economy, and taking the action that’s needed to deliver a different vision.”
Answering questions from the media following his speech, he said the SNP had failed to attach “fair work” conditions to publicly-funded grants and loans offered by the Scottish Government to business.
Asked about new, smaller parties who intend to run in next year’s elections, he said the Greens had shown their “track record” over the two decades of devolution.
“Many people who support independence do think the SNP need to be pushed beyond their comfort zone,” he said.
“And I think they can see that the Greens are the ones with a track record of doing that successfully.
“We’ll look forward to the May election, standing on our record, and I think the polls at the moment show we have the potential to make gains right across the country.”
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