SCOTTISH Labour MSPs will not support a motion calling for the devolution of employment law – despite a manifesto pledge to back the policy.

Representatives from Anas Sarwar’s Labour group at Holyrood have been told not to give their backing to a motion calling for “employment law to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament immediately”, according to reports in the Daily Record.

However, Sarwar’s party’s 2021 Scottish election manifesto stated: “We support further devolution of powers to Holyrood including borrowing and employment rights, with a UK floor that would encourage a race to the top on workers’ terms and conditions.”

The Scottish Labour leader had also previously supported devolution of drug laws to Holyrood, but has U-turned and backed Westminster control over the legislation in recent weeks.

Sarwar’s group’s refusal to back calls for the devolution of employment law comes after UK Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, ruled it out in August.

The Daily Record reported that Labour MSPs had been “asked” not to support a parliamentary motion opposing Rayner's stance, leading SNP minister Emma Roddick to quip: “Is ‘asked’ the word?”

Keith Brown, the SNP’s depute leader who proposed the motion on the issue, said: "Scottish Labour's refusal to support a simple motion that reflects their own party's policy is staggering.

"I encourage Labour MSPs to stand up to their own party leadership and think for themselves.

“It's Labour policy that employment law should be devolved to Scotland – and the TUC's backing marks a significant moment on Scotland's self-government journey that the Parliament should reflect on.

"It's no wonder the public can't trust Labour to stand up for Scotland when every day shows clearly that it's their Westminster bosses that pull the strings."

Last week, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) backed the devolution of employment law to Scotland in a move welcomed by trade unionists within the SNP.

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Brown’s motion asks MSPs to say parliament welcomes “that the TUC has recently backed a motion calling for the devolution of employment law to Scotland and a repeal of all current anti-trade union legislation; considers that devolution of employment law is supported by the majority of current MSPs … and notes the calls for employment law to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament immediately”.

It is supported by MSPs including the Scottish GreensMaggie Chapman and SNP’s Ben Macpherson and Ivan McKee.

But Scottish Labour MSP Daniel Johnson (below) insisted that the SNP were trying to “confect yet another constitutional row to distract from their own hypocrisy”.

The National:

Johnson said: “This is a party that uses exploitative zero-hour contracts and a government that forces public sector workers to fight tooth and nail for fair pay and conditions.

“While the SNP snipes from the sidelines, Labour is ready to deliver transformative change with our New Deal for Working People – banning exploitative zero-hour contracts, ending fire and rehire, extending sick pay and making the minimum wage enough to live off.

“At every level of government, Labour will use the powers it has to strengthen workers’ rights and improve pay and conditions.”

The Daily Record reported that Scottish Labour would seek to amend the motion to instead suggest that a UK Labour government should be allowed to do what it will for 100 days before asking how any additional rights can be “strengthened by devolution”.