Margaret McCulloch MSP

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Member of the Conveners Group

 

 

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Meeting of the Parliament 27 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Margaret McCulloch (Central Scotland) (Lab)

Like other members, I represent a part of the country where there has been a recurring need for PACE teams. Communities across Scotland are still reeling from the loss of jobs at City Link, whose workers were told at Christmas that they would be out of work by the new year. Although the relocation of Rolls-Royce from East Kilbride to Inchinnan will not lead directly to redundancies, it is expected that it will affect the supply chain and reduce significantly the already declining manufacturing base in the town.

However, it was the closure of the Jeyes manufacturing plant in East Kilbride that prompted me to investigate PACE and to look in detail at the scheme’s effectiveness. Jeyes is one of the country’s leading manufacturers of cleaning products and fluids. Over 130 years, it has grown from humble beginnings to become a manufacturer with global reach. Retailers in over 60 different countries worldwide have Jeyes products on their shelves, and many of us will have some of those products in our kitchens and bathrooms.

East Kilbride shared in the success of the firm, having been home to the manufacturer for over 40 years. Yet, in 2012, Jeyes decided to consolidate manufacturing at Thetford in Norfolk and to close the East Kilbride plant, despite a strong counterproposal from local management, South Lanarkshire Council and the Scottish manufacturing advisory service. It was a profitable plant, and the workers were not just productive and committed; most of them were highly skilled and many had worked at Jeyes for over 15 years. The loss of those jobs was a body blow to the workforce and the manufacturing industry. Workers told me that the experience was most daunting for those who had been with the firm for years, but not long enough to consider retirement.

PACE teams were deployed. They provided assistance with CV preparation, interview skills and benefits advice—the practical support that we know is most valued when workers are being made redundant. I brought the factory workers who faced redundancy to my own jobs fair in East Kilbride and secured extra support from Skills Development Scotland at that event to reinforce their job-seeking skills. I also met the PACE team to hear in detail about how they approach workplaces such as Jeyes. The lessons that I took away from that experience are broadly reflected in the client experience survey, which has been mentioned.

Help with CVs and applications is overwhelmingly appreciated, and information about training and funding for training continues to rank among the most popular of PACE services. The initial presentation to workers could be delivered earlier, especially when a workforce is forewarned about an employer’s intention to make staff redundant. Two thirds of those who were surveyed had to take a pay cut in their first job after the PACE intervention, and half continued in lower-paying work.

I want to stress that last point. PACE is our way of supporting workers who face redundancy to get back into the labour market, but the labour market is changing. To give workers the best chance of securing continuing and meaningful employment, we need to influence those changes. We need a strategy that insulates Scotland against economic shocks such as that in the North Sea oil and gas sector and which reverses the decline of our manufacturing base in places like East Kilbride.

If we believe in a strong, resilient, higher-waged and better-skilled economy in which growth is more evenly distributed, we must ensure that we do not simply replace the good-quality and secure work that we lose with less well-paid and less secure work. Indeed, our aim should be to retain the jobs that contribute most to the economy and to prevent painful and wasteful redundancies in the first place.

I believe that PACE services could be delivered sooner and that we must do more than respond to redundancy: where we can, we must prevent it. As we have discussed, there is a strong and compelling case for an economic resilience fund. For those reasons, I will support the Labour amendment. However, I say to all members that we cannot separate the issue of how we support people who face redundancy from that of how we reshape and rebalance the economy as a whole. For the sake of those who are faced with redundancy and those who are struggling with unemployment, we must ask ourselves whether the economy that we have is really the economy that we want.

16:12  

Meeting of the Parliament 20 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Margaret McCulloch (Central Scotland) (Lab)

Since this Parliament was established in 1999, I believe that we have proven collectively that we are at our very best when tackling head on the inequalities that scar our nation, from breaking new ground with land reform to confronting old prejudices such as homophobia and bigotry; challenging the stigma around mental health; speaking out against female genital mutilation; standing up to traffickers and those who exploit migrants; exposing the conditions in which too many Gypsy Travellers are forced to live; and giving a platform to carers, young people, pensioners, the disadvantaged and the underrepresented.

This young Parliament can mature—and has matured—by addressing the inequalities that afflict Scotland no matter how challenging, by fostering genuine equality and diversity and by championing the human rights written into our founding statute.

We have challenged some of the most pernicious, the most complex and often the most sensitive of social inequalities. Where necessary, many of us will even have challenged ourselves and our own assumptions about equality and we will have challenged our Scottish Government, too, in pursuit of a fairer Scotland. That is fair. That is what the Parliament of a compassionate, socially progressive country must do. Where we find injustice, we must confront it.

In a briefing to members, Oxfam has shone a light on some of those injustices. Citing the Scottish Government, it says that the richest 10 per cent of households in Scotland have 900 times the accumulated wealth of the poorest.

Audit Scotland says that the average healthy life expectancy of people living in the least deprived areas in Scotland is around 18 years higher than that of people living in the most deprived areas. More than half of the lowest achieving secondary 4 pupils in Scotland’s schools come from the three most deprived income deciles.

I appeal for all of us to confront those economic, health and educational inequalities and the issues of social justice that we are debating today with the same rigour that we have applied to equal opportunities and social affairs.

We cannot pull our punches in the fight against inequality. It is for that reason that I intend to support the Labour amendment. We must do all that we can, using every means at our disposal, to narrow the gap and fashion a fairer, more equal society. Like the Scottish Government, I believe that the coalition’s economic and social policies are failing. After the slowest recovery in 100 years, Scotland and the UK are still struggling with a cost-of-living crisis and rising inequality.

There is an alternative. We can build a higher-wage, better-skilled economy that is supported by good public services and rich with opportunities not just for some, but for all. We all have to play our part. We in this Parliament are not bystanders. We have a duty to find solutions and not just excuses.

Most of us in the chamber agree that the national minimum wage successfully set a floor below which wages are not allowed to fall, tackling the worst of poverty pay and reducing wage inequality. Most of us also agree that the living wage would reduce in-work poverty, improve employee retention and wellbeing and even improve productivity in the workplaces of living wage employers.

The Scottish Government has previously explained its hesitancy to legislate to guarantee that the public sector uses its purchasing power to secure the living wage from contractors, but it has not given a good reason why it refused to accept constructive non-legislative proposals from my Labour colleagues last year for a national living wage strategy and a Scottish living wage unit. We must do more to promote the living wage for the sake of those who are struggling to get by.

I also want to highlight the case for early intervention and preventative spending. Many of us will know about the work of experts in that field, including those in the violence reduction unit, Suzanne Zeedyk and Sir Harry Burns. We could close the life expectancy gap and the attainment gap by addressing the social determinants of inequalities, intensifying our focus on the early years, tackling insecurity in people’s lives and building a sense of coherence and community.

In its “Scottish Spending Review 2011 and Draft Budget 2012-13”, the Scottish Government committed itself to

“a decisive shift towards preventative spending.”

I was a member of the Finance Committee at the time. However, in its recent report on the draft budget for 2015-16, the Finance Committee states:

“there is little evidence of the essential shift in resources taking place to support a preventative approach.”

That view is also endorsed by Audit Scotland. To address the inequalities that hold Scotland back, the Scottish Government must embrace the practice and not simply the theory of preventative spending.

As I have said, this Parliament is at its best when it is unashamedly confronting the inequalities that hold Scotland back. We should be offended by injustice and frustrated by inaction. For that reason, I call on the Scottish Government to strengthen its commitment to both the living wage and early intervention.

15:23  

Meeting of the Parliament 20 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Margaret McCulloch

Will the member take an intervention?



Meeting of the Parliament 20 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Margaret McCulloch

Will the member take an intervention?



Meeting of the Parliament 20 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Margaret McCulloch

Does the member not think that if the Government backed and supported a Scottish living wage unit, that would encourage employers to introduce the living wage?



Equal Opportunities Committee 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
The Convener (Margaret McCulloch)

Happy new year, everyone, and welcome to the first meeting in 2015 of the Equal Opportunities Committee. I ask everyone to switch off their mobile devices or put them in flight mode. We have received apologies from John Finnie.

Agenda item 1 is a declaration of interests. I welcome to the committee our newest member, Jayne Baxter. In accordance with section 3 of the code of conduct, I ask Jayne to declare any interests relevant to the committee’s remit.



Equal Opportunities Committee 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
The Convener

Thank you.



Equal Opportunities Committee 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
The Convener

Today’s second agenda item is witness expenses. In keeping with usual practice, members are invited to delegate to me, as convener, responsibility for arranging for the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body to pay, under rule 12.4.3 of standing orders, any witness expenses in our age and social isolation inquiry. Do members agree to do that?

Members indicated agreement.



Equal Opportunities Committee 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
The Convener

That concludes the meeting. Our next meeting will take place on Thursday 5 February, when we will take evidence on our having and keeping a home inquiry from the Minister for Housing and Welfare.

Meeting closed at 09:32.  

Meeting of the Parliament 08 January 2015 : Thursday, January 08, 2015
Margaret McCulloch (Central Scotland) (Lab)

Does the member agree that, if hotels and other businesses introduce the living wage, they will see a more settled staff and fewer staff moving about?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12154.1 Lewis Macdonald: Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) – Supporting Indivi
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-12120.1 Jenny Marra: 2020 Vision, the Strategic Forward Direction of the NHS—As an amendment to
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-12101 John Swinney: Budget (Scotland) (No.4) Bill—That the Parliament agrees to the general prin
>> Show more
AbstainCarried

S4M-12095.4 Ken Macintosh: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-12095.2 Alex Johnstone: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12095.1 Willie Rennie: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12095 Alex Neil: Tackling Inequalities—That the Parliament agrees that a strong, sustainable eco
>> Show more
YesCarried

Selection of John Pentland MSP for appointment to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body.
Not VotedCarried

S4M-12060.2 Hugh Henry: Commending the People who Keep Scotland Safe in Emergencies—As an amendment
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-12045.3 Shona Robison: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-12045 in the name of Rich
>> Show more
NoCarried

Search for other Motions lodged by Margaret McCulloch
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11557: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 14/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11478: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 07/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10178: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 30/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10165: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 28/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09923: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 07/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09631: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 04/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09053: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 17/02/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08594: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 11/12/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08138: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 31/10/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-07558: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 30/08/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Margaret McCulloch
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-24157: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 22/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24104: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 21/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23981: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 12/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23982: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 12/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23983: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 12/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23979: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 12/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23980: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 12/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03918: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 12/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23908: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 07/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23907: Margaret McCulloch, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 07/01/2015 Show Full Question >>