Retailers in Scotland have urged First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to show restraint if the minimum wage is devolved to the Scottish government.
Sturgeon is pressing Westminster to devolve powers over the minimum wage to Scotland, which retailers fear could result in a rate rise.
“The UK-wide minimum wage has not given us the flexibility we need to take action to help people,” she recently said.
Scottish Grocers’ Federation public affairs manager John Lee said the organisation was keeping a close eye on developments. “It’s difficult to know where devolution is going. There’s definitely more power coming to the Scottish government. It could get powers over the minimum wage, which would likely result in a rise, potentially putting jobs under threat,” he told C-Store.
Sid Ali, who owns two Nisa stores in Aberdeenshire, said the Scottish government should consult carefully on a minimum wage rise should the legislation be devolved. “Smaller stores should pay less than the big supermarkets, who can afford it. Or maybe they should phase it in, so people will have more money in their pockets and spend more in our stores as a result, meaning we’d be able to afford it better later on,” he said. “I deliberately pay above the minimum wage so if it went up I’d feel obliged to maintain the difference.”
Sturgeon has also pledged to convene a living wage summit with business leaders to encourage them to sign up to the voluntary initiative.
Lee warned that its members could be put under pressure to commit to the living wage. “The Scottish government must realise that the living wage impacts on different business sectors in different ways. Independent local retailers simply cannot absorb the additional cost of big salary increases,” he said.
“Government has to stop adding to the cost of doing business.”