Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Penzance Town Council votes to be a Living Wage employer

Great news, a while back I suggested to the town clerk that the town council that we become a Living Wage employer. This came to committee last week and was thankfully voted through, with only one opposing which is fantastic. Although it was my idea, I can't take too much credit as I don't sit on the Finance and Property Committee, so I wasn't there to speak on behalf of the recommendation nor to vote on it. Thanks are due therefore to the town clerk and the other office staff for drawing up the proposal and the committee members for voting it through.

The wording of the recommendation was as follows: "that the principle of the Penzance Town Council being a Living Wage Employer is supported and that we work with the Living Wage Foundation in achieving Accreditation." More on what the Living Wage is from the Foundations website here.

I think this is an important step in recognising that decent wage is the right thing to do. For the town council the implications are (again to quote from the report): "There are currently 3 part-time staff whose pay is below the Living Wage although it must be noted that their pay is considerably above the minimum wage. The financial implications, therefore are minimal and will be reported as part of the budget setting if supported." So there's not a great cost to the ratepayer and it doesn't mean slashing other services.

As it's only a few members of staff, the real significance is symbolic (although for those 3, it's hopefully a great help) rather than a sea change in the way the council treats it's employees. I hope as more and more employers take up the Living Wage that others follow suit and that this government notices that lots of people and organisations don't think that the minimum wage is adequate. I know lots of smaller businesses may find it hard to stump up for the Living Wage for their employees, but it should also be considered the Living Wage Foundation's research of the benefits to employers:

http://www.livingwage.org.uk/what-are-benefits


I always supported and indeed pushed for the inclusion of the Living Wage in the Mebyon Kernow manifesto. It's something I greatly believe in, I think pay should be fair and I hope for a day when headlines in papers about civil servants pay, are about a fair deal for the poorest paid not how senior staff are earning astronomical sums.