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Ensuring a sustainable and prosperous convenience industry in Scotland

Latest unemployment figures are a warning of why there must be a national minimum wage freeze

The latest unemployment figures from the Office for National Statistics show some welcomed news with the overall unemployment levels in Scotland declining by 0.7% over the last year to June-August 2011. However, the latest quarter (June-August 2011) shows that unemployment levels in Scotland rose by 7,000 with the unemployment rate increasing by 0.3 percentage points to 7.9 percent.

This comes as the national minimum wage increased on October 1 by 2.5 percent and continued a trend of successive increases every year since the introduction of the NMW in 1999. The NMW has soared from £3.60 per hour for an adult in 1999 to £6.08 per hour in 2011.

John Drummond, Chief Executive of the Scottish Grocers’ Federation, said: “As retailers the length and breadth of Scotland continue to face down the challenges of these extraordinarily difficult times in our economy Government should be helping employers not adding to their financial pressures. “As employers, retailers do not want to be put in the position of having to choose between giving someone a pay rise or giving them their P45. “As the Low Pay Commission undertakes its work to determine the rate for next year, the Scottish Grocers Federation will be lobbying for a freeze on the NMW. “Unless the NMW is brought into line with the current policy of pay freezes across vast swathes of the private and public sectors it is going to be increasingly difficult to make the increase in unemployment for the last quarter the exception rather than the rule.”