Hundreds of council workers to be paid living wage after U-turn by bosses

Hundreds of council workers are poised to be paid the living wage after a U-turn by bosses - in a move that will cost about £330,000 in extra wages.

Some 1,015 workers or contractors for Walsall Council are currently below the living wage of £7.65 compared to the minimum wage of £6.31.

Council leader Mike Bird said last week that an increase was unlikely as it would cost too much.

But in a u-turn he has now asked the town hall’s human resources and finance departments to come up with a report outlining proposals to offer the living wage to those employees directly employed by the council - which could total around several hundred people.

He said: "I have instructed our officers to prepare a report for the cabinet to outline the cost which would be £330,000 of which 50 per cent can be picked up by the schools.

"I think it is the right thing to do. We have been looking at this issue for about 12 months, but the costs were prohibitive. We believe we can look at accommodating our directly employed staff, but it will be up to contractors who provide services to us to address the issue themselves.”

There had been concerns that the total increase in wages including those contracted in areas such as social care would see the annual wage bill rocket by at least £2 million if all staff and contractors received the wage.

Figures obtained from the council's financial department revealed the majority of workers at the local authority earn a rate of pay at or above the living wage.

However, there are 1,015 posts which are graded below it, including 640 in schools.

The move comes after calls were made by opposition Labour councillors for the authority to increase their pay to the living wage level which is calculated according to the basic cost of living.

Councillor Mohammad Nazir said: "If Mike Bird has done a U-turn on this since last Friday well that is good. But I would like to make it clear that this is our policy and we have always been fully committed to implementing the living wage regardless of the Conservatives blowing hot and cold over it.

“We can’t go on accepting that people in Walsall are worth less than the rest of the country and we can’t ask employers to pay more if, as the council, we leave our own staff to struggle on low pay,” Councillor Nazir added.

Unions launched a major campaign last year for a minimum increase of £1 an hour to increase the bottom rate of pay in local government to raise it to a living wage hourly rate.

Comments for: "Hundreds of council workers to be paid living wage after U-turn by bosses"

Annie Bro

Those figures suggest that the 1015 employees are paid an average of about £1250 a year!

middley

Where has this living wage come from, who has set the amount to what they think it should be, and if Concillor Nazir is that keen on saying it was his party that came up with the proposals, how does he think the council are going to pay for it, council tax rises I suppose, easy when the public are just cash cows for governments and councils. I was on the understanding ALL councils were "cash strapped" so how can they justify this, I mean good luck to the one's going to get it, but somewhere someone has got to pay for it. Typical Labour, burn money and think of the consequence later, I just hope a front line service doesn't get stopped to pay for it, there is nothing in law set in stone that this rate has to be paid, lets hope it's bought in for ALL workers then, my wife and daughter both work in private care homes and get pennies above the minimum wage and no extra for overtime, maybe the councillor and his party should look into that, most ex council workers wouldn't work in private care homes, they wouldn't take the drop !

daz1234

My daughters work in care for 6.36 a hour the cleaner who tidy's the rooms and hoovers gets 6.63 a hour

Ivor

I think this is brilliant Labour/Union spin aided by the media wing of the Labour party called the BBC

we have a minimum wage, by law everyone, even the lowest paid job in the UK has to be on it.

"minimum" gives you a clue .

Labour has a problem how do you attack if no one is below that amount ?

Answer Invent a fictitious item call it a "living wage" and start moaning

markie

Agree with you ivor. Small businesses, especially catering, public houses and retail struggle to pay the minimum wage, then along comes a large public body who can just charge the motorist more to foot the bill - theres no competition in that. That reduces the footfall in town centres and puts shops pubs and cafes out of business.

I know, I've been there.

daz1234

So they found a way to pay living wage, luckily there raising council tax by 83% for people on the lowest form of income

markymark

On the July 25th edition of the Express & Star Council leader Mike Bird was quoted as saying:

'If we paid the internal staff the living wage then we would HAVE to extend that to staff with contracts that provide services for us.'

Now it turns out that this is untrue. So why did Council leader Mike Bird make this plainly misleading statement in the first place?

Whether you agree or disagree with paying the living wage to internal council staff, there is a much wider and much more troubling issue to consider: councils are increasingly contracting out most of their services (care staff, dinner ladies, refuse collectors etc...) to external providers. As the private sector takes over from the public sector wages are bidded down and there is a continual race to the bottom for councils to contract services from the cheapest bidder.

One particular area is of major concern, and that is home care or domiciliary care. Here over 90% of staff are now externally employed by run for profit private providers who work with the council to bid down the wages of external staff. Many home care staff are not now even paid the National Minimum Wage ( travel time between clients is unpaid, mileage allowance is not paid, most contracts are zero hours, holidays are paid as rolled-up pay ), let alone the heady heights of a Living Wage. It is absolutely disgraceful that home care staff that deal with vulnerable people and do a difficult job are being sold short in this underhand and despicable way. The Government, local councils, and private run for profit providers are colluding together to create a care industry that is not even Third World in quality or ethical provision. Council leaders should hang their heads in shame for taking part in this increasing, but little publicised practice.

Ivor

There is no fabled money tree

Since I've been around Labours infatuation with Spend has stalled the economy 4 times, each time with massive unemployment for the very people who vote for them.

1951-1969 -1978 and again in 2010

This is no coincidence, this destruction of the working classes by Labour, is by design.

If you have concerns about carers look at

http://www.cqc.org.uk/

to raise a complaint

If you have evidence that the minimum wage is being broken

https://www.gov.uk/pay-and-work-rights-helpline

to raise a complaint

markymark

I agree Ivor, there is no fabled money tree.

I don't agree that there was massive unemployment between 1951 -1978. Massive unemployment began in the Conservative recession of 1982- 1983. As for Labour designing the destruction of the working class, mass immigration certainly contributed to this, but equally blame goes to the bankers and the current Condem Government.

I worked as a carer and have contacted the CQC- they couldn't care less about carers being paid below the NMW. As for the Government helpline, well that is a complete joke.

I actually wasn't making a partisan political point in my last post - quite frankly ALL political parties are the same- lying hypocrites. The point I was making was that local councils, Walsall included, are fully complicit in allowing care workers to be paid well below the NMW This is a fact, not a wild unsubstantiated assertion.

markie

Ivor did not say there was unemployment in the years in question.

What he said was it was spending that stalled the economy and led to high unemploment.

There is usually a delay of about 18 months between the cause of unemployment and the rise of the unemployment figures. So, for example, the Conservatives took office in mid 1979 following the massive overspends of the Labour government and record interest rates, and the unemployment that this caused continued until 1982.

This government has managed by clever management to keep interest rates low and unemployment also, by creating 2 million extra jobs.

I live in fear of Labour getting back into office and starting the spend, spend cycle again.

Every time Labour has left such a mess I think that they will never ever get into power again, but it seems some people are stupid enough to vote for them again and again.

markymark

There is absolutely no doubt that Labour spent well beyond their (our) means, and they would probably do it again, given the chance. I think we can agree on that.

The merits or demerits of the Living Wage can be argued at length, but the essential point I was making was that it is simply not fair to say that care workers, for example, employed externally by the council should be paid MUCH less than care workers employed internally by the council. Twenty years ago 95% of care workers were employed internally by the council, now 95% of care workers are employed externally by the council. Many people may say that the council is right to cut the wages of care workers to below NMW levels because it saves the tax payer money. It doesn't - wages have to be made up by tax credits and other benefits. Private companies are getting very rich on the backs of the very poor.

Either all care workers, and other council staff (both internal or external), should either be paid the NMW or the Living Wage, not some paid the Living Wage and most paid the NMW or below. It is morally wrong, and financially wrong too.