I am responding to M Vaughan’s letter (Bring in a “living wage” at council,
28th Jan). Nationally, the Green Party has spearheaded a campaign to
establish a Living Wage for all areas of the country. Whereas the National
Minimum Wage is a legally enforceable protection against absolute poverty,
the Living Wage provides for a socially acceptable standard of living and
takes account of local factors such as the cost of housing.
In July 2009, Green Party councillors put a successful motion to the City
Council requesting officers to assess the possibility of implementing a
Living Wage in Sheffield. In November, we were assured that work had started
on a Cabinet report. Last week, however, we received a memo from the Chief
Executive informing us that nothing more would be done until after the
council’s Equal Pay Structure has been implemented in April 2010. He
admitted that the Living Wage for Sheffield is about £7 per hour and that
the Equal Pay Review will leave 240 council employees earning less than
this. Most of these – 190 – will receive increments to bring them above the
Living Wage by April 2011 (though it may have risen by then, of course!).
But fifty will still be below it. Most importantly the figures do not
include the hundreds of school-based staff (for instance cooks, lunch time
supervisors and crossing patrol staff).
As M Vaughan says, the council should be setting an example in terms of fair
wages. Of course we need to know how much this will cost and/or what changes
to the overall pay structure would be needed (presumably flattening it out).
And yes, we need to analyse the effect on jobs and productivity if a Living
Wage was implemented more widely in the city. This is precisely why we put
the motion and we are deeply disappointed in the ongoing delay on such an
Cllr Jillian Creasy, Sheffield Green Party