It’s the end of our week-long celebration of Living Wage Week.
We’ve shared stories about local businesses who are accredited Living Wage Employers. We’re ending on a pledge that we’re making as Wandsworth Labour, one that we made in our local election manifesto, and one that we continue to set the agenda on at the Town Hall.
We are committed to make Wandsworth Borough Council a Living Wage Employer, so that all workers – whether staff or contractors – are paid at least £10.55 an hour.
There are many councils, both Labour and Conservative-led, that pay Living Wage. We believe that paying Living Wage transcends party political ties. We know that there are supporters of this pledge sitting on the Tory side of the council, and we want to work with them to make it happen.
At October’s Council Meeting, an overwhelming majority of Councillors voted to sign up to Justine Greening’s Social Mobility Pledge. We believe that the foundation stone to this pledge is to lift people out of poverty so that everyone is starting out on the ladder, not clinging to a day-by-day existence.
Social Mobility seems a cruel aspiration to set before someone who is making choices between heating and eating. It seems an unrealistic dream for the Wandsworth Council sub-contracted carer, when she barely earns enough to cover her rent.
We are clear about the steps that we need to make to achieve our goal of Wandsworth Council joining neighouring boroughs to become a Living Wage Employer. First, we need data. Wandsworth Tories currently have no recorded source of information on how many people, sub-contracted by Wandsworth, are not paid Living Wage. Wandsworth Tories have so far refused to include Living Wage within tenders so that information is available to make decisions on.
The Leader of the Council has taken a negative tone to all responses about Living Wage, going so far as to say he doubts that the people it would impact can even live in Wandsworth! We know that other London councils, supported by local residents, have made Living Wage a reality.
We are asking Wandsworth Council to take the first steps in working with us to make a plan to become Living Wage accredited. The first step that we ask them to make is to agree to attend a meeting with us to understand the journey to becoming a Living Wage employer, and we look forward to hearing a response to the request we made several months ago.
This week we celebrated 4,500 UK employers, including Local Authorities, who pay a Living Wage. We will continue to campaign for Wandsworth to become accredited as a Living Wage employer.
One day soon we will proudly fly the Living Wage flag over the Town Hall!