Glenrothes paves the way for towns to tackle low pay across Scotland

The campaign to make Glenrothes the first Living Wage Town in the UK was launched at Enterprise Hub Fife
The campaign to make Glenrothes the first Living Wage Town in the UK was launched at Enterprise Hub Fife

Glenrothes is the first Town in the UK to be awarded recognition by Living Wage Scotland for its plan to become a ‘Living Wage Town’.

An Action Group of Glenrothes-based employers launched the ‘Making Glenrothes a Living Wage Town’ action plan at the Enterprise Hub in Glenrothes.

The action plan focuses on encouraging local employers to pay their employees the Living Wage, currently £9 per hour, and become accredited by Living Wage Scotland.

The Action Group includes Fife Council, Fife Voluntary Action and Fife College, representing some of the largest employers in the town, alongside Glenrothes businesses including Glenwood Hairdressing Salon and Landfall Scaffolding.

Sixty-four Fife employers have already voluntarily committed to ensure all their staff and subcontracted staff earn a real Living Wage of £9.00 an hour, significantly higher than the government minimum of £8.21.

Eleven of Fife’s accredited Living Wage employers are based in Glenrothes, and together employ the equivalent of 12 per cent of the Fife region’s workforce.

The Fairer Fife Commission recommended that Fife should become a Living Wage region and Fife Council as the largest Living Wage employer in Glenrothes is playing its part in pushing the initiative forward.

Fife Council co-leader Councillor David Alexander said: “Glenrothes is leading the way by becoming the first town in the UK to take this town-based approach to addressing the issue of low pay.

“Fife Council’s aim is to create conditions in Fife where all residents have the capability to live good lives, make choices and reach their potential.

“As part of our strategy to create a Fairer Fife we recognise the value of joining the Living Wage accreditation scheme.

“I’m delighted to announce the launch of the ‘Making Glenrothes a Living Wage Town’ action plan and I encourage business owners and employers to find out more on the website our.fife.scot/fairerfife/livingwage/.”

Fellow Fife Council co-leader Councillor David Ross added: “We are putting fairness at the heart of everything we do by bringing together Fife’s communities, services and businesses to fight poverty and inequality.

“A key element in creating a Fairer Fife is encouraging employers to pay the Living Wage as a way of demonstrating their leadership and commitment to their community.

“We will be working together with our partner businesses and organisations on the Action Group to encourage and influence others to achieve Living Wage accreditation.

“This will not only to benefit employees but the whole community and if more businesses in the town can pay their staff the Living Wage we will build a strong reputation for being a great place to work and live.”

Glenwood Salon owner Brent Burnett and Landfall Scaffolding managing director Gordon Slight are part of the Living Wage Town Action Group.

Mr Burnett said: “I pay my staff the Living Wage because they deserve it and I want to treat them well. I appreciate the hard work and loyalty they give me in return and most have been with me for a long time.

“I feel strongly about my local community, with both my customers and staff living locally I feel the business is firmly rooted here in Glenwood.

“By being accredited by Living Wage Scotland I not only benefit the staff, but the whole community. If I have happy staff I know I will have happy customers.”

Mr Slight added: “We are a family business and have always believed that being fair to people means they will be fair in return.

“We place a massive emphasis on the quality of service our staff give to our customers so it’s important that their work is fairly rewarded.

“Living Wage accreditation demonstrates our commitment to values of fairness and helps us attract good young people to train within our business.”

Among the other employers represented at the launch were: RBS, NHS Fife, Raytheon Systems, Glendale Plastics, and Kingdom Housing Association.

The Action Plan launched seeks to triple the number of employers accredited in the town in the first year and will offer small grants to help local businesses achieve Living Wage accreditation.

The Action Group intend to prioritise their engagement with care, construction and manufacturing as key industries in Glenrothes.

Councillors Fiona Grant and Atlany Craik are members of the Action Group.

Councillor Grant said: “This launch marks the end of the beginning in as much as we now have the right folk round the table and an agreed action plan.

“It also marks the beginning of the actual campaign to start discussions with every employer out there to consider why they don’t currently pay the hourly rate considered to be necessary for a decent standard of living.

“Different employers have different challenges but the steering group will look to support each and every one of them towards gaining living wage accreditation.”

Councillor Craik added: “As a cornerstone of our fairness agenda, fair pay for work is vital. Following on from the Fife Business Charter, which sets out the commitment to make Fife a fair work economy, our aspiration to make Glenrothes a Living Wage Town is a signal we recognise the importance of the Living Wage in making Fifers’ lives better.

“Working with our businesses, together we will make Glenrothes the place for others to follow. Fairness matters and becoming a Living Wage Town is the start of our journey.”

Living Wage Scotland launched in 2014 and is hosted by The Poverty Alliance, in partnership with the Living Wage Foundation, and funded by the Scottish Government.

Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said: “The commitment of this alliance of employers to the people of Glenrothes is very exciting. We look forward to working with them on making Glenrothes a Living Wage Town.

“Key employers working together will play an important role in ending low pay in Scotland, so this announcement should act as inspiration for towns and cities across the country.”