Protestors set to campaign for ‘living wage’

NBEV Beverley ps1322-15'Scenic Beverley Pictured By Pam Stanforth ps1322-15
NBEV Beverley ps1322-15'Scenic Beverley Pictured By Pam Stanforth ps1322-15

Protestors will on Saturday call on the East Riding of Yorkshire Council to pay its employees a living wage.

Members of the GMB union want the authority to bring the lowest rates of pay up to £7.45 an hour - a level they believe is needed for a “minimum acceptable standard of living.”

ERYC employees will be among those taking part in a day of action on Saturday 1 June outside the Wilkinson store in Beverley town centre.

“No one should earn less than a liveable wage and the Council needs to set an example to other local employers”, said Ester Marriott, GMB Organisation Officer.

David Smith, East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s head of human resources and support services, said : “The council takes great pride in its workforce and values the contributions that all employees make in the provision of services to our residents in the East Riding. However it does not feel that it is appropriate to consider the implementation of the living wage, as it wishes to support a fair collective bargaining approach that responds to all workers rather than a proportion of the work force”.

But George McManus, Parliamentary Officer for Beverley and Holderness Labour Party, felt the response was a cop out as other councils across the country, and some government departments, paid their staff a living wage. He said there were around 800 lower paid workers on ERYC and said to implement the living wage would cost the council just £400,000 or £500 per person each year.

The current minimum wage for people over 21 is £6.19 and is set to rise to £6.31 in October.

Beverley Labour Party will be supporting the GMB on Saturday in Beverley Town Centre from 10.30am to seek signatures to lobby the ERYC towards implementing the Living Wage for their members.

The National Living Wage is calculated annually by independent academics in the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, based on the items that people need for a “minimum acceptable standard of living” and factoring in the cost of lower end rental accommodation, council tax and full time childcare. In November 2012 the rate went up to £7.45.

A growing number of local authorities across the country have signed up to the Living Wage, including Birmingham, Cardiff, Newcastle, Oxford, Preston and London Boroughs such as Camden, Hounslow, Islington, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark. Hull City Council and Scarborough Borough Council have also agreed, in principle, to pay the Living Wage.

Ester Marriott, GMB Organisation Officer said; “Council staff on the lowest pay grades are struggling to make ends meet because of the pay freezes of recent years and the rising cost of living. The position of many outsourced staff who deliver council services is similarly precarious. Low workers cannot rely on in-work benefits to top up their earnings because state benefits of all kinds are being targeted by the government.

“More and more local authorities are signing up to the Living Wage, and the idea has gained support from Councillors and MPs of all parties. We don’t want ERYC to be left behind. There is an opportunity here for the Council to show that it values the people who deliver its services, and also to enhance the quality of those services. Experts have shown that there is a strong business case for implementing the Living Wage because it raises morale and productivity, improves attendance and reduces staff turnover.

“We strongly believe that no one should be paid less than a liveable wage and we are calling on the ERYC to set an example to other employers in the area.