Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Labour Lies on Living Wage

Last week Cllr Thackray, the Green Party councillor, proposed the Living Wage motion for all council employees and sub contracted employees in Lambeth. As noted already on this blog, it is already policy in the neighbouring boroughs of Southwark and Lewisham. Feedback from South London Citizens, and other organisations backing the campaign for raising the wages of poorer workers, was that the two boroughs where there would be the most resistance to this would be Lambeth and Tower Hamlets.

Cllr Thackray put her motion but then the following amendment was tabled by the Labour group in Lambeth:
"This Council is a Living Wage employer as no Lambeth Council employee earns less than the London Living Wage (LLW) of £7.45 per hour. In fact the lowest pay rate for our direct employees is higher than the LLW at £8.08 per hour and only 147 staff earn less than £10 per hour. In addition, contractors such as Veolia, the Council’s waste management contractor, pays at least LLW to all their staff. The Coucnil acknowledge the importance of the London Living Wage to help alleviate the ‘working poverty trap’ in the capital, the situation affecting around 400.000 Londoners who are paid less than can reasonably fund the basic costs of living in London.

This Council will continue to work towards the reduction of differentials terms and conditions between directly employed staff and those employed by the Council’s contractors, with the aspiration of applying the Lambeth minimum wage to contractors’ staff."

So the Labour amendment was passing Lambeth off as a council which pays all its subcontracted staff at least £7.45 per hour and that their wage rates are higher than average. This I do not believe to be true and I would like to see facts and figures to challenge this. This would require some assistance from those working in the council. Now that the motion has been passed with this amendment, everything possible must be done to ensure that it is enforced and that those staff who are being paid lower than the London Living Wage are made aware of their rights under the policy and their cases brought to light.

As Green Party parliamentary candidate for Vauxhall, I will work to ensure that this policy is implemented and will, together with Cllr Thackray, work with trade unionists in the borough to ensure that this becomes a reality and not just another piece of Labour spin.

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