We’re working towards a safer future at work - Lorna Slater

I attended two events last week that made me think a lot about work, representation and the future we can build.
Lorna Slater is the minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversityLorna Slater is the minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity
Lorna Slater is the minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity

On Friday, I joined a Workers Memorial Day commemoration in Bathgate. It was a small but moving ceremony that gave us an opportunity to pay tribute to workers who have been killed, injured, or made unwell by dangerous work conditions.So many of the deaths and tragedies that have impacted workers have been totally avoidable. Over the course of centuries, far too many people have been forced to put their bodies and lives on the line, often in needlessly dire circumstances and for poverty pay.With the slogan Remember the dead – Fight for the living, it is a day that is just as much about the future as it is about the past. There is a responsibility on all governments to do everything we can to improve terms and conditions today and ensure that the practices and stories of the past are never repeated.One of the most important steps we can take to improve conditions is to ensure workers have a meaningful say in setting them.The night before the memorial I had attended a fantastic cooperatives event hosted by the Edinburgh Green Party.Cooperatives are companies that are owned and controlled by workers and communities. They are defined by the needs and values of their members and offer an alternative to the traditional hierarchical business models by putting workers at the centre of decision-making.While speaking to attendees I was delighted to learn about the ways they are working to support and give back to the workers and communities they serve.As Amanda Lake from Dig-In in Bruntsfield told me, cooperatives “provide a local focal point that enables a strong community to flourish.” Similarly, as one attendee from Media Co-op stressed, worker-led business can “help stitch the fabric of society together.”These values are even more vital when we are in the worst cost of living crisis for decades, and must be at the heart of our recovery. That is how we can build a wellbeing economy where all workers are represented, supported and safe.It is a vision that we are working towards. Employment law is not devolved, so we are leading by example and using the limited powers we have to drive up standards.With Scottish Greens in government we have introduced a new fair work framework to ensure that all companies applying for Scottish Government contracts or grants are paying a living wage and providing robust workers representation.We have the technology and resources to allow all workers to have a livable salary and a stake in their future. Nobody should be made to take an unnecessary risk just by going to work. We must never forget those who have come before us, so let’s deliver the future they deserved.

Lorna Slater is the minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity

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