This week see a week long campaign for the acceptance of the Living Wage.
It involves about 60,000 workers and 1,000 businesses and organisations and this week sees the London rate rise to £8.80. In the rest of the country the rate increased by 20 pence to £7.85 last week and is set by the University of Loughborough.
This means that the Living Wage is 21% higher than the mandatory Minimum Wage set by the government that recently raised the rate to £6.50 for adult workers.
This still means that there are approximately five million workers who get paid less than the voluntary scheme, or 22% of the working population, according to a report just published by the consultancy company, KPMG and has given further impetus to the campaign. (This is Living Wage Week which is being recognised nationally to emphasise the need for the scheme with government and employers.)
It makes sense to have a well paid workforce that feels valued, rather than exploited. The Living Wage Foundation can point to absenteeism declining by as much as 25%. For the country there is the benefit that instead of top up benefits, workers can pay their way.
How does this apply to this sector? Just last month Plymouth employer Union Glass celebrated its new Living Wage Accreditation status with a visit from its local MP. Oliver Colvile MP, the Conservative Party MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, visited the Living Wage employer to congratulate them on its continuing commitment to paying its staff a fair wage.
“It was a pleasure to be invited to Union Glass to take a tour of the building and meet some of its employees,” he explained. “This is a company that is looking to expand its workforce now that the economy is on the up. By investing in their staff, they have seen greater loyalty in terms of years of service.”
One could argue that five million people earning less than the Living Wage is five million too many. There is no real reason that this sector should not lead the way in providing the conditions to ensure employees get a decent living standard after these recent years of great sacrifice.
Caption The Living Wage is expanding but has a long way to go to achieve wider acceptance. Our image shows Oliver Colvile MP (left) pictured with Nigel Brown, of Union Glass, Union Street (image Plymouth Herald).