Alison Johnstone, MSP for Lothian and a member of Holyrood’s economy committee, is renewing her call for action on so-called zero-hours contracts in light of the revelation that subcontractors on the Borders Railway project are being employed on such contracts.
Borders rail route
In committee Alison has pressed Finance Secretary John Swinney to use the procurement process to prevent firms using zero-hours contracts from being awarded public work.

Alison said:

“The finance secretary assured me that zero-hours contracts were not used by the Scottish Government and I urged him to look at extending this standard to all work that is publicly-funded. It’s frustrating to see these contracts being used by subcontractors on such a high-profile publicly-funded project.

“We must clamp down on inappropriate employment tactics. We should look for opportunities in the forthcoming Procurement Bill to improve job security.”

The Daily Record has been contacted by irate workers who landed a job on the £294million project only to be told to stay at home for days on end without pay when work went quiet.

Transcript of economy committee meeting 27 Feb

Alison Johnstone’s question:
Could we perhaps tie into the public procurement process a commitment that such contracts are not used when organisations are in receipt of funding?

John Swinney’s answer:
We would have to consider whether there is scope and legislative competence to extend the requirement that zero-hours contracts cannot be used in procurement contracts. I will be happy to consider that with the committee when our procurement reform bill comes to Parliament in due course, which will enable us to explore some of those questions.