Alex Salmond
An independent Scotland under the SNP could have a Scottish Minimum WageReuters

Alex Salmond hopes to woo voters with the promise that the Scottish National Party could increase pay for 150,000 low-wage workers in an independent Scotland

Salmond pledged his party would set up a commission to consider a new 'Scottish Minimum Wage' – which would at least rise in line with inflation – if Scotland broke away from the rest of the UK.

The plan comes less than two months ahead of the Scottish independence referendum on 18 September.

SNP's research found that around 150,000 Scots – or just under 7% of the country's total workforce – will be earning the UK national minimum wage in October when the rate jumps to £6.50 ($11.04, €8.22), from £6.31.

But the party argued that the minimum wage has failed to keep up with the cost of living since 2008 and, that if the inflation increases had been introduced five years ago, the lowest paid Scots would have been up to £675 better off.

"With a Yes vote and independence we will be able to ensure that around 150,000 of our lowest paid workers earn a fair day's pay for a fair day's work," said, Christina McKelvie MSP, convener of the SNP Parliamentary Trade Union Group.

"Scotland is one of the richest countries in the world – and yet the latest figures show that the number of people living in poverty is on the increase, with a million Scots now living below the bread line.

"We know one of the key drivers of poverty is earnings – which is why we would use the powers of independence to set a Scottish Minimum Wage guarantee. A minimum wage that rises – at the very least – in line with inflation."

But some businesses bodies have poured cold water over the SNP's proposal.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which represents more than 250,000 employers across the UK, argued that politically-set minimum wages often fail to "take into account of the need to balance raising wages while avoiding higher unemployment caused by making job creation more expensive".

"The current UK approach, with decisions taken by an expert body, the Low Pay Commission, strikes the right balance, allowing for regular, gradual rises in pay," a CBI spokesperson added.