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13 February 2013
This welcome news comes as London media is reporting that half of Londoners fear that they may be driven out by the sky high costs of housing in the capital and the poor wages many employers offer says GMB
GMB, the union for public service workers, welcomed the decision by Barking and Dagenham Council to become the first local authority in the United Kingdom to guarantee all its lowest paid employees will be get a minimum wage of £9 an hour or £16,425 Per Annum.
The Council's Cabinet agreed on Tuesday, 12 February, that all permanent Council staff and agency staff working on Council assignments, be paid the equivalent of £9 per hour, 45 pence above the London Living Wage (LLW), back dated to 1 January 2013.
Announcing the decision, Council Leader, Cllr Liam Smith also called on other local authorities to follow his Council's lead.
Keith Williams GMB Organiser said,
“This welcome news comes as London media is reporting that half of Londoners fear that they may be driven out by the sky high costs of housing in the capital and the poor wages many employers offer.
£9 an hour is the highest living wage in the UK to date but is needed by hard working GMB members and their families who will benefit from this farsighted initiative. GMB is negotiating with other councils to follow Barking and Dagenham's lead.
I am in no doubt that senior Tories will attack the council for paying staff enough money to live in London. Tories do not like ordinary workers. The Tories seriously consider that only elite people who earn a million pounds a year deserve a £50,000 a year tax cut from April to motivate them while ordinary workers need their pay frozen to balance the books. One rule for the elite and another for ordinary people is not acceptable and will be vigorously opposed in practice like this across the land and Tory attacks will be treated with the contempt they deserve."
Cllr Liam Smith, said:
“This decision reflects a commitment laid out in the Council's Pay Policy Statement, which set out the agreement in November 2011 to pay the equivalent of the London Living Wage (LLW) of £8.30 which was implemented in January 2012.
The decision shows the Council's commitment to supporting in our workers. The increase reflects what people need to live on in the borough. We have over 1,500 low paid workers and this decision impacts on those who need it most like cleaners, catering staff and teaching assistants - majority of whom are local residents.
As a Council, we are committed to ensuring our lowest paid employees receive help in tough times, ensuring they are treated fairly in pay – a decision which supports our ambition to increase average household incomes across the borough. This will mean a better life for hundreds of workers and their families.
The Conservative led coalition government is hitting working people all the time with policies such as the bedroom tax, universal credit and changes in council tax benefit. The average person in Barking and Dagenham cannot be blamed for the situation we find ourselves in, but is facing the full consequences of it. This is not something I believe in and not something I am prepared to go along with. This Council is dedicated to protecting the interests of our residents and this decision is another way of doing so.
This is just one of many initiatives this Council has undertaken to support residents. We have also announced a collective energy switchover scheme that we hope will save every household up to £200 a year off their energy bills, coupled with the biggest house building project of any council in London, to ensure our residents have the highest standard of living condition possible.
Barking and Dagenham is leading the way in ensuring our staff have a true living wage and we would hope other local authorities will follow our lead in doing what is right.”