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Union says Anas Sarwar family’s firm pays above real living wage

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Political opponents had accused Anas Sarwar of hypocrisy over Labour’s living wage plans

A trade union representing workers at a business run by relatives of Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has said they are paid above the real living wage.

Mr Sarwar – whose party is promising a new deal for workers – was earlier accused of hypocrisy by political opponents after telling the BBC not all employees at United Wholesale currently received the rate.

But in a statement issued late on Sunday the Usdaw union said recent pay negotiations meant all staff now received an income higher than the living wage.

Anas Sarwar has no direct involvement and has relinquished shares in United Wholesale which his father originally set up.

The political row followed an interview on the BBC’s Sunday Show in which Mr Sarwar set out Labour plans for new minimum pay rates linked to the cost of living.

The real living wage hourly rate advocated by the Living Wage Foundation is currently set at £12 across the country and £13.15 in London.

That is 56p more than the current national minimum wage – introduced by Labour as part of their 1997 election manifesto.

When asked if the wholesale business run by members of his family currently paid the real living wage, he replied: “I don’t believe that every single staff member is on the real living wage.

“But I know there have been significant increases in the wage after negotiations with Usdaw, their trade union.

“Every business, including that one, will have to comply with the new deal for working people which will deliver a genuine living wage right across the country.”

Anas Sarwar faced questioning on his party’s real living wage plans on the BBC’s The Sunday Show

Political opponents quickly responded to his comments.

The SNP’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said it was an “astonishing revelation” and accused him of hypocrisy.

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Craig Hoy said it was “humiliating” for Mr Sarwar, and it left him “open to the charge of hypocrisy”.

But late on Sunday evening an Usdaw spokesman issued a clarification, saying: “Usdaw has a trade union recognition agreement with United Wholesale Scotland and we negotiate on pay with the company.

“In our last negotiation we agreed a pay deal that delivered an income higher than the real living wage for all employees.”

The spokesman went on to say: “We would urge political parties to get their own house in order.”

Labour sources said that as negotiations are between Usdaw and United Wholesale, Mr Sarwar had not been aware of the terms of any agreement.

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