£1m bid for living wage

UNIONS have welcomed plans to introduce the ‘Living Wage’ for Fife Council staff which will see around 2000 employees benefit from a pay rise.

Council leader Alex Rowley announced a proposal to introduce it in the administration’s draft budget due to be published at a meeting of the executive committee on Tuesday.

If approved, the move will cost the Council just over £1m and will come into force from April.

The ‘Living Wage’, currently set at £7.20 an hour, will benefit the Council’s lowest paid workers – cleaners, home carers, catering assistants, drivers and clerical staff – who are paid as little as £6.36 an hour, just above the minimum wage of £6.19 an hour.

Huge success

Debbie Thompson, Unison Fife branch secretary, said: “This was one of the issues we pressed the new administration on and we were given an early indication it would be introduced.

“It’s a huge success. It will benefit lots of part-time, predominantly female, workers and will give them a lift, particularly given the fact that they’ve had no pay rise for three years.

“It could mean up to an additional £60 a month, and that’s a significant amount of money for many people.”

Cllr Rowley said paying all workers a decent wage and making work pay was the right thing to do.

He said: “A living wage can lift families out of poverty while reducing their reliance on public spending or private debt.

‘‘Employers across the public and private sectors have found that, combined with a commitment to engage and develop their staff, it can make good business sense too.

“In addition, it can help local authorities meet their wider objectives by boosting local economies and supporting local communities.”

Cllr Rowley also stated he wanted the requirement to pay the ‘Living Wage’ built into all public sector contracts, and would seek Scottish Government support to make this legal.

He added; “Even in tough times delivering fairness and laying the foundations of a stronger economy that works for working people is a priority for Labour in Fife.

‘‘This investment in people is also an investment in Fife communities.”