GMB Petition In Bexhill To Call On East Sussex Council To Pay £7.85 Per Hour For Lowest Paid Staff As A Step Towards Living Wage Of £10 Per Hour Set By GMB Congress
It would cost East Sussex County Council £1.5m to bring its staff up to £7.85 per hour and we will campaign for this money to be spent says GMB.
GMB, the union for public sector staff, will ask members of the public attending the Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott gig at Bexhill’s De Le Warr Pavillion this evening (9th December) to support a call for East Sussex County Council to bring the lowest pay rates for workers who deliver indispensable council services up to £7.85 per hour as a step towards the £10 per hour set by GMB Congress.
This will follow an earlier protest today at 3pm in Brighton outside NEXT with Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott calling on the retailer as a first step to pay £7.85 per hour and £9.20 per hour in London as a step towards the £10 per hour set by GMB Congress.
The bottom pay rate at the council is £7.08 per hour with many council contractors also paying well below £7.85 and £10 per hour.
Rachel Verdin, GMB Organiser, said: “East Sussex County Council workers 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. This year’s paltry increase does little to combat that. The position of many outsourced staff who also deliver council services is similarly precarious. Low-paid workers cannot rely on in-work benefits to top-up their earnings because state benefits of all kinds are being cut by the government.
It would cost East Sussex County Council £1.5m to bring its staff up to £7.85 per hour. GMB will campaign for this to be spent.
The £7.85 per hour figure published last month is updated 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. (See Note 1)
A growing number of local authorities across the country have signed up to pay this figure of £7.85 per hour including Brighton, Birmingham, Cardiff, Newcastle, Oxford, Preston and London boroughs such as Camden, Hounslow, Islington, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark. Over 1000 organisations in the public and private sectors have been accredited as Living Wage employers by the Living Wage Foundation. (See Note 2).
Decent wages are needed to combat the growing problem of in-work poverty. Official figures show that across the UK, 61% of children in poverty live in households where at least one adult works. (See Note 3).
Campaigners also point to the business benefits of paying decent wages. An independent report by London Economics found “clear evidence” that employers who have introduced decent wages “have benefited across a wide range of areas”. According to the report, 80% of employers believe that paying staff enough to live on has enhanced the quality of the work of their staff; two-thirds noted a significant improvement in recruitment and retention, and a majority said that sickness absence had fallen. (See Note 4).”
Contact: Rachel Verdin 07931 796733 or firstname.lastname@example.org or GMB press office 07921 289880
Notes to editors
1. For more information visit www.livingwage.org.uk.
3. See Chris Goulden, “The relentless rise of in-work poverty”, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 14 June 2012; available at http://www.jrf.org.uk/blog/2012/06/relentless-rise-work-poverty).
4. London Economics, “An independent study of the business benefits of implementing a Living Wage policy in London”, February 2009.