Comhairle plans to pay Living Wage in 2014/15

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 6 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, despite having agreed to do so over six months ago.

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.”

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.

“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.”

New research reportedly shows an estimated 1 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.

David Stewart MSP is backing plans to establish a Living Wage Unit and a National Living Wage Strategy which will be accountable to the Scottish Parliament. The strategy will target specific job markets and areas to deliver a pay rise in jobs where it will make a real difference so that the living wage is the expectation, not the exception.

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. An estimated 1 thousand workers in the Western Isles Council area are earning less than the living wage.

“The hospitality and retail industries employ thousands of people in dire need of a payrise. A National Living Wage Strategy would be able to target and work with these industries to deliver a pay rise to workers who need it the most.

“The SNP were wrong to vote against the living wage, but I hope they see sense and work with Scottish Labour to help deliver better pay for workers across Scotland.

“Campaigners across Scotland got plenty of experience this summer arguing for what they believe in. I believe in better pay and conditions for working people in the Highlands and Islands and across Scotland. Promoting the living wage where it will make a difference is a step towards a better nation. It is time to make work pay.”