He said: “… I make no apologies that as the leader of the Scottish Labour Party I have joined workers on picket lines because that is where the Labour
Party always should have been because I have always held to the principle that if there is a strike we should not be debating whether we support it or
not, we should be getting in behind it and supporting that union and those workers who are in struggle.
“Which is why I welcome this week’s publication of the Institute of Employment Rights ‘Charter of Workers’ Rights’.”
“I tell you this is no time for such mediocrity. No time for such timidity. This is the time for action,” he added.
“So I give you an undertaking today that Scottish Labour in opposition we will continue to push the Scottish Government to go further and faster, but
an undertaking as well that we will stand on a manifesto in 2021 that makes the real living wage and labour standards, including trade union rights not
a voluntary arrangement or an optional extra in public procurement and public assistance.”
“We will make it a compulsory requirement and an inescapable obligation in public procurement and public assistance
“So that if you deploy tax avoidance and tax evasion measures like those umbrella companies so rife in the construction industry then you will not
win public procurement contracts and you will not receive governmental support.
He continued: “We should be establishing new sectoral bargaining arrangements. But we want to go further: a future Scottish Labour Government under my leadership will not only establish sectoral collective bargaining we will establish sectoral industrial and economic planning as well as part of a long overdue
industrial strategy for Scotland: bringing together trade unions, employers and government.
“So that instead of time and time again demanding last ditch defensive rescues in the event of market failure you, the Scottish trade union movement is at the very heart of pro-actively planning for economic success.
“Because we need trade union voices. And we need industrial democracy. Not just when things go wrong, but to help make sure things go right in the first place.
“And if we have not learned that, we have learned nothing.
” … I will appoint a Cabinet Secretary for Labour in a Scottish Labour Government. And I can also confirm today that we will protect and strengthen workers’ rights by seeking the devolution of employment law in which we will set a pre-Brexit floor to ensure that workers in Scotland are not caught up in a race to the bottom.”
The Charter for Workers’ Rights is a version of the Manifesto for Labour Law (supported by the UK Labour Party) that has been adapted to suit Scotland’s needs.