John Mason, SNP MSP for Glasgow’s East End, has signed up to support the campaign to make Scotland a Fair Trade Nation. The campaign, organised by the Scottish Fair Trade Forum, aims to put together the bid for Scotland to be declared a Fair Trade Nation by increasing awareness and purchasing of Fair Trade products
John Mason has demonstrated his commitment by signing a card with the slogan “Scotland’s Going Fair Trade. Are You?” As one of the first Fair Trade Nations in the world, Scotland will lead the way in ensuring producers from the developing world are paid the right price for their products so that they can work their way out of poverty.
“We are delighted that so many MSPs are supporting the campaign”, said Martin Rhodes, Director of the Scottish Fair Trade Forum. “Cross-party support is vital to achieving Fair Trade status across the whole of Scotland. The support of John Mason MSP is another boost for the campaign.
Commenting, the SNP’s John Mason, who is committed to only using Fair Trade products in his Constituency Office, said: “I am pleased to be supporting the campaign to make Scotland a Fair Trade Nation. I know that many East End folk also support Fair Trade to ensure that farmers and producers in the developing world get a fair deal.
Fair Trade goods guarantee a fair price to producers in developing countries, as well as safe working conditions, no child labour, rights for women and protection of the environment. As a Fair Trade Nation, Scotland’s towns will have active Fair Trade groups, each city will have Fairtrade City status, and the Scottish Government will actively promote Fair Trade.
As well as using only BUAV approved products in his Constituency Office, Mr Mason also only uses Fairtrade tea and coffee.
The Shettleston MSP took part in a Fair Trade debate in the Scottish Parliament in February this year. A transcript of his speech is below.
I thank George Adam for raising this issue, which is well worth a debate this evening.
In the Parliament, most of us are committed to the living wage-to the idea that people should be able to live on what they are paid for the work that they do. Most of us agree that the statutory minimum wage is not enough to live on. I see fair trade as a logical extension of that. I hope that our concern does not stop at the borders of Scotland, or even at those of the UK or Europe; we should also concern ourselves with people who are further away, and especially with the poorest people in Africa, Asia, South America and elsewhere.
If people in Scotland who make clothes for us should be properly paid, so should be people in Asia who make clothes for us. The reality is that we benefit from that, too. As poorer countries around the world become better off, people there start to afford to buy our products and to travel to visit us. In my lifetime, quite a change has occurred in a number of countries. For example, we used to think of Hong Kong and South Korea as low-wage economies which made quite cheap products, but they have now moved up to become comparable with us.
I like a song that has been sung by a guy called Ian Davison that uses the phrase ?the worldwide minimum wage. That very much appeals to me, although I accept that it is probably a bit optimistic in the short term. However, fair trade is a step in the right direction, which is why I am enthusiastic about it.
As George Adam said, we can remember in our lifetimes some pretty awful fair trade products. I remember when pretty much all that was available was fair trade coffee, and some of it was not exactly great. Now, a wide range of products is available, including tea, coffee, fruit juice, chocolate and wine.
In my constituency office, we try to use as many fair trade products as possible. We also try to use cleaning products that are approved by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, which means that they are not tested on animals. I mention those two aspects because we should commend the Co-op, which I suggest is better than all the other supermarkets, for its wide range of fair trade products and products that are not tested on animals.
I am sure that we will all give examples of good things that are happening in our areas. I understand that 200 young people will go to Glasgow Caledonian University in March to meet representatives from Palestine who will say how much fair trade has helped them.
We often have a problem with the word ?charity and how we use it, and we have mixed reactions to it. We know of great charities-which I am sure we all support-such as Mary's Meals, Oxfam and Tearfund. However, the negative side is that we do not want people to live on charity in the long term, which is why fair trade is important; it requires paying people what they deserve for the work that they do. We can build on that for a variety of related campaigns-for example, Christian Aid and others are working on countries being able to tax the profits that are made in those countries.
Some big international companies do not like to report the profits that they earn in individual countries, but people in my profession and others are pushing for such reporting. The belief is that a lot of underreporting takes place in many countries, so companies do not pay the tax that they should pay poorer countries, just as they do not pay workers there what they deserve. There is a long way to go, but it is great that we are having the debate. Fair trade is a great first step along the way and I am happy to support the motion.