SPARE a thought for the staff who serve you this weekend when you are out to dinner with your mates or attending the football match on Saturday, for some of the biggest names in the hospitality sector were found guilty this week of not paying their staff even the National Minimum Wage.

A government report just published exposes poor wage rates and unacceptable employment practices at Wagamama, TGI Friday’s, Marriott Hotels, Birmingham City Football Club, Stoke City and St Helens Rugby club.

In total 179 employers across Britain, including 15 in Scotland, were fined £1.3 million by Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise for ripping off their workers. Marriot Hotels had to pay £250 each to 279 of its staff after underpaying even the paltry minimum rate.

An HMRC spokesman said: “The penalties for non-payment of the statutory National Minimum Wage mean employers can now be fined up to twice the total wages shortfall, subject to a maximum of £20,000 per worker”. However, as The Financial Times pointed out last month, there are so few HMRC inspectors enforcing the minimum wage that the average company can only expect an audit once every 500 years!

The 43 companies in the hospitality sector prosecuted in the latest list clearly felt it was a risk worth taking. Their HR departments will know this law inside out. These companies in the slave-labour business are clearly at it.

Meanwhile the Scottish Socialist Party will continue to expose them as part of our ongoing campaign for a £10/hour Living Wage (the rate the government says you need to be earning to pay your own way) and ending zero-hour contracts.

Keep an eye out for our campaign stalls on Edinburgh’s Princes Street every week and elsewhere across the country.

Colin Fox
National spokesman, Scottish Socialist Party

MR WJ Graham is right in stating that Robert Bruce’s Queen was named Elizabeth, and that therefore Scotland has had a Queen Elizabeth prior to the reigning monarch (Letters, March 9). But Elizabeth de Burgh was a Queen Consort, not a Queen Regnant, and Queens Consort are not numbered. Like several later Queens Consort in Scotland, Elizabeth de Burgh appears to have been a woman of considerable ability and strength of character; but her historical existence does not alter the fact that the present Queen should not be referred to in this country as Elizabeth II.

Derrick McClure

HENRY McLeish has stated that Scots are not convinced of the merits of independence and that the Labour Party should support greater federalism (The big four objectives that shape out future, The National, March 9). I believe that this is a selfish view.

My eyes see more support than ever for independence following the Brexit vote. Unlike England, Scotland is a net exporter and many have recognised that we would be seriously affected by the end of the single market or customs union.

The Labour Party’s support for federalism, not independence, is aimed at retaining a number of Scottish seats in Westminster, without which their chances of achieving a majority would be substantially reduced.

They have made a number of promises to increase devolved powers in Scotland and have consistently failed to deliver. We now have a simple choice on how to prevent Westminster imposing their will on Scotland.

The solution on which powers should be devolved is a simple one. All of them.

Peter Rowberry

HENRY McLeish is still advocating federalism. Could he please explain how the smaller nations within the UK could cope against the numerically superior English faction, and why he thinks this would result in a scenario much different from the status quo?

Independence is the ONLY way forward for Scotland, Henry!

Dennis White

WHAT is the point of Henry McLeish?Compare his insipid ramblings with the razor-sharp articles written by Andrew Tickell.

Dan Huil