Procurement at the heart of strong manufacturing sector

Carol Ball

#STUC16 UNISON’s Carol Ball threw the spotlight on procurement as Congress set out an ambitious plan to end the stagnation of manufacturing in Scotland through a long-term industrial strategy.

Joining the criticisms of the Scottish Government’s ‘A Manufacturing Future for Scotland’ plan, Carol told delegates that this really is a missed opportunity for a much needed comprehensive manufacturing strategy.

She called for more effective use of procurement to deliver policy priorities, including economic, social and environmental benefits locally and nationally. Procurement also has a role in policies that address the under-representation of women in manufacturing and their concentration in occupations with the lowest pay.

“A coherent manufacturing strategy must include using procurement to support Scottish industry and supply chains, with community benefit clauses addressing areas including use of apprentices, subcontracting opportunities, compliance with the sustainable procurement duty and looking at whole life costs to help support local companies,” said Carol.

“And of course, the Scottish Government needs to take a much more credible and far stronger line in procurement policy if they want their fine words against blacklisting and tax dodging to actually deliver in ensuring companies involved in these are not given public contracts.  If they don’t, their lack of action speaks volumes,” she warned.

Carol pointed to a recent opinion poll commissioned by UNISON which showed overwhelmingly that the public does not want to see tax dodging companies being allowed to benefit from the public pound.

“There is no reason why a system of labelling, such as the Fair Tax Mark, can’t be used to help assess whether a company is doing what all the rest of us have to do and paying its taxes. Aggressive tax avoidance should mean companies are banned from being eligible to bid,” she said.

Carol urged, “Let’s also see public procurement used to extend the use of the Living Wage to everyone employed on public service contracts. Raising wages boosts local economies.

“And of course we mean the actual Living Wage, calculated according to what is needed, not the bogus so-called National Living Wage brought in as a con by the Chancellor George Osborne.”

“The time is long overdue for Scotland to have a strong manufacturing strategy with public procurement at its heart, the public sector leading by example, boosting the economy and actively delivering the type of contracts that support a socially just Scotland.”

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