Pay rise demand

WIGAN Council says it is committed to providing workers with a living wage after criticism from union chiefs.

In the week in which the GMB union launched campaign for a minimum increase of £1 an hour to increase the bottom rate of pay in local government to raise it to a living wage hourly rate, the council say they are already planning to introduce a living wage next year.

The unions are also calling for the same £1 an hour increase to also apply to all pay points above the bottom rate.

The news comes as a study found that by paying all workers in the UK a living wage, it would save the Treasury more than £2bn a year by boosting income tax receipts and reducing welfare spending, according to a study.

Joint research by the Resolution Foundation and the Institute for Public Policy Research found gross earnings would rise by £6.5bn if employees were paid a living wage - an estimate, above the statutory minimum hourly rate, of what workers must earn to meet basic needs.

Paul McKevitt, deputy chief executive of Wigan Council, said: “We are committed to ensuring staff at Wigan Council are paid a fair wage, a wage which reflects rising living costs.

“That’s why in April this year we firmly committed to paying a Living Wage. As of next year, all council staff will be paid above the national minimum wage. Our priority now is to work with our Trade Unions and staff to get this initiative off the ground.”

Brian Strutton, GMB national secretary for public services, said: “One and a half million council workers have seen their living standards cut by 18 per cent and 400,000 of their colleagues lose their jobs. I don’t believe any section of the economy has taken such an austerity hit as local authority staff.

“Street cleaners, school dinner staff, social workers, gravediggers, classroom assistants and all the other unsung heroes serving their local communities deserve a decent pay rise.

“Our claim for £1 an hour is not a king’s ransom but it will go some way towards restoring the real pay cuts that council staffs have suffered.”

Fiona Farmer, national officer for local authorities in Unite said: “Low pay and poverty pay are endemic in local government with too many members now reliant on food banks and pay day loan companies. Our members are only asking for a Fair Pay settlement that compensates them for the 16 per cent they have lost in real earnings since 2008 - £1 an hour is a Fair Claim.”