Comhairle plan to introduce living wage next year

Living Wage Week 2014 commenced on November 2nd and was followed with the introduction of the new Living Wage in the UK, now £7.85.

Living Wage Employers now have six months to implement the increase into employee wages.

The Local Government Branch of public sector trade union, UNISON, is stepping-up its campaign for payment of a Living Wage to the lowest-earning council workers by the Comhairle, which it says is one of only two councils in Scotland still ‘dragging its feet’ over payment of the Living Wage.

The Comhairle’s payment of the Living Wage currently includes island allowance.

Branch Organiser, Flora Somerville said: “Though it’s been encouraging to see the Comhairle supporting campaigns against fuel poverty and unfair charges for electricity recently; it really needs to start getting its own house in order.

“UNISON members are angry that the Comhairle - in ‘Living Wage Week 2014’ – still hasn’t paid the Living Wage due from 2013! UNISON is pushing the Comhairle hard to sort all this out before Christmas – the time when our lowest paid members are most in need.”

New research reportedly shows an estimated one thousand workers in the Western Isles Council area are paid less than the living wage.

MSP David Stewart said that these figures, from accountancy firm KPMG, should act as a wake up call for politicians that the fight for fair pay is far from over.

Mr Stewart said: “It is time to get serious about better pay for workers in the Western Isles, and across Scotland. Hundreds of thousands of Scots are living in working poverty.”

In response the Comhairle said: “The Comhairle’s position is that taking account of basic pay and Islands Allowance the pay of staff has always exceeded the living wage.

“Adoption of the current Living Wage with immediate effect would, unless changes are made to the grading structure, have the effect of removing the pay differential between grades A and B, and the Comhairle must approach that issue, as with any grading issues, in the proper way.

“However, the Comhairle decision now is to move to paying the Living Wage excluding the Islands Allowance.

“A Report will go to P&R in December recommending how this can be achieved in 2014/15.”