When the First Minister launched the Scottish Business Pledge last year, it was described as a “badge of pride” to reflect the Government”s “fair and progressive” policies.
All participants must commit to pay the Living Wage of £7.85 an hour and meet a number of other criteria, such as not using zero hours contracts and encouraging gender balance.
However, the latest figures show that only 276 firms had signed up by August, representing just 0.2 per cent of Scotland”s 360,000 private sector companies.
They have a total of 59,120 employees – a mere 2.4 per cent of the workforce north of the Border.
Only 97 businesses are “making progress” on employing more women and only one is from the hospitality industry, which has a poor record on pay.
In a further blow to the scheme, a number of companies run by SNP politicians do not appear to have signed up. Last night, Scottish Labour economy spokesman Richard Leonard said: “The Business Pledge is a laudable goal but these figures show how ineffective the SNP government has been in promoting it.
“A strong economy providing fair work and a living wage is something we support, but the SNP has only convinced 0.2 per cent of Scottish business to sign up to their flagship scheme.
“The lack of progress in traditional low-wage sectors with insecure work like hotels and hospitality is also a worry as the pledge should be changing the nature of private sector work.”
Heart of Midlothian FC was among the first to sign the pledge, with the club”s chief executive Ann Budge joining Ms Sturgeon and Deputy First Minister John Swinney at the launch at Tynecastle in Edinburgh in May 2015. Since then, multinationals such as Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Johnson & Johnson Medical have been signed up along with Scottish firms such as BrewDog, Rabbie”s Tours and Visit Arran.
However, the latest register – which has added a further 17 firms since the August report – has several notable absentees.
They include Salt “n” Sauce Promotions and the Scottish Comedy Agency, founded by Edinburgh East MP Tommy Sheppard; financial services firm CMAL Ltd, founded by Dundee West MP Chris Law; Commsworld, chaired by Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP Ian Blackford; and LED
Warehouse, an online retailer run by Dumfries and Galloway MP Richard Arkless.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “While responsibility for setting and enforcing the minimum wage is reserved to the UK Government, we”re continuing to promote fair pay and conditions through a number of fair working practices, of which the business pledge is just one approach.
“We will continue to encourage businesses to choose the pledge as a route to productivity and growth, and also create opportunities for companies to come together and learn from each other and enterprise agencies.”