Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The Labour administration has signalled its intention to introduce a ‘living wage’ for the county council lowest paid staff by kick starting negotiations with the authority’s trade unions and the Northern TUC

Labour moves to implement promise on ‘living wage’ Hundreds of lowest paid workers set for pay boost as negotiations begin over living wage implementation in Northumberland County Council.

The Labour administration has signalled its intention to introduce a ‘living wage’ for the county council lowest paid staff by kick starting negotiations with the authority’s trade unions and the Northern TUC.

 A working group has been set up to look at how the county could implement a ‘living wage’ with a remit to report back to the executive within three months and to look at the potential knock on effect of increased wages for the local economy.

A terms of reference for the group has been circulated to trade unions and an accompanying academic report has been commissioned. In addition, the council is keen to develop an equality impact assessment and have already approached a third party to evaluate the potential impact of the ‘living wage’ policy.

 Labour are outlining their approach to delivering a key ‘manifesto commitment’ in the run up to the council’s budget process as a signal to its priorities despite having to make almost £70m worth of savings over the next two years and having to deal with the coalition government’s expected decision to reduce the amount it transfers to Northumberland by £222 per household.

The party is confident that the ‘living wage’ policy would benefit the wider Northumberland economy because many of the workers who would see a pay hike, live and shop in their local communities. It is estimated that a pay rise to over £7.20 an hour would mean that local businesses could see an additional £10m of local spending.

Labour group leader Grant Davey said ‘There are already 51 council’s across the country who’ve signed up to a ‘living wage’ for their lowest paid employee’s and we’re keen to get on and deliver our promise to the make Northumberland County Council a ‘living wage’ employer. As communities and families face an ever increasing struggle to make ends meet as coalition tax increases such as the VAT hike continue to eat into household incomes, we’re clear that we think a ‘living wage’ will boost households and businesses alike.

We’ve taken the step to set up a working group which will report back within three months after assessing the wider impact of the policy and we’re clear that this policy is about a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. I’m hopeful that this policy will attract ‘cross party support’ as it’s not a party political issue’. End The 12 Councils of the North East agreed that a conference should be held in january 2014 once the size of the cut is known by Councils to progress the matter of what is the North-Easts level of living wage.

If we move more quickly in Northumberland it will be a two stage matter. The Newcastle Model will be the first step to get the principle established and then the regional model when the massive problems of setting that level are resolved. nationally 51 Councils have applied a form of living wage. Some as a cash supplementary payment for the low paid, some with a new base pay for the lowest paid worker and some by deleting lower pay points. We as labour in Northumberland are open as to the best method of tackling this issue.





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