This week is Living Wage week, a campaign I have always admired. The long and short of it is that the Minimum Wage is not enough to live on and the Living Wage campaign instead champions employers to pay an amount that can ensure a decent standard of living, more on that here on the campaign website. It is a well known fact that the top earners at Lys Kernow earn a great deal of money yet at the other end of the scale many do not earn a living wage, this is not fair nor justified.
It's a deplorable state of affairs that well over fifteen hundred staff employed by Cornwall Council earn wages well short of the level needed for a basic standard of living. I also find it deplorable that at the other end of the scale the bosses and executives earn huge salaries some in excess of £200,000 year. There is a way to right these two wrongs, by reviewing pay to council staff and redistributing money downward to the lowest paid. Putting fairness and common sense at the forefront of pay on Cornwall Council.
Unfortunately New Labour's flagship policy -National Minimum Wage- does not provide enough income to maintain a basic standard of living.Work should pay for everyone, the lowest earners in society deserve their fair share of wages too. At this time of rising living costs and stagnating wage levels, I welcome the Living Wage initiative to help the hardest working in society to a better quality of life. Cornwall Council employs well over 1500 staff at a level below the Living Wage of seven pounds forty five pence per hour see pdf 'Employees paid less than £7.20', the lowest pay grade employees are in fact one pound twenty short of a living wage, this is not acceptable as a practice and I believe this does not adequately reflect the hard work and dedication of those on the front line of public services in Cornwall.
These pay grade levels were set by the last Labour government and frozen by the current Conservative Liberal Democrat Coalition. For the pay of the lowest rewarded staff to increase would require Westminster to change their policy, either on the minimum wage and/ or on public sector pay grades, not something Mebyon Kernow is able to do at this stage. But next year, in six months time, there will be elections for Cornwall Council if Mebyon Kernow find itself in power, we are pledging to remedy this wrong to give the common hard working folk more money in their pockets. The Extended Leadership Team of Cornwall Council, just 30 individuals see pdf at bottom, collectively earn over £2.7 million pounds per year, on minimum pay grades and salaries between seventy thousand and two hundred thousand pounds per year. The Leadership are not the only council officials on super high salaries, figures released in 2010 revealed thirty employees are on over one hundred thousand pounds per year and a further one hundred and fifty people on over fifty thousand pounds per year, these figures combing to a staggering ten and a half million pounds. Cornwall Council has grown to be a top heavy organisation in terms of pay, Mebyon Kernow finds it deeply unacceptable that those on the front line working the hardest earn a paltry wage not enough to live modestly yet the richest paid live more than handsomely.
Not only is rebalancing pay the right thing to do it also makes economic sense. Research by the Living Wage Foundation has shown that employees paid the living wage are happier workers, they are more productive they have a lower level of absence. The benefits to Cornwall Council and the taxpayer are obvious, we will have a more efficient workers happier workers, just by introducing fairness to the pay philosophy of Cornwall Council. Successive council administrations have told the people of Cornwall that the top staff must be paid top money to stay in their jobs or we won't have the best, I accept the logic that paying decent money gets decent personnel but this extended to all staff from the lowest paid up in a much fairer manner. Just one of the things Mebyon Kernow pledge to remedy in our 2013 Cornwall Council manifesto.
If you are interested in joining MK or learning more our conference is on the 24th of November see here for details