24 September 2018   |  Last Updated 07-01-2015 08:00

      Thursday 06, November 2014

      Living Wage Campaign off to a positive start in Manchester

      TOM Skinner, a coordinator for the Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign, believes it has been a successful first year, after the new living wage rate was increased by 20p on Monday to £7.85 at an event at the University of Salford.


      The Living Wage Foundation has been running since 2001, but the Manchester campaign was only formed in October of last year, meaning there has been plenty of catching up to do and Tom has been pleased with the progress made so far.


      ‘‘In terms of the results of people becoming living wage accredited employers, which is one of the easiest measurements to make, since our launch in October last year when there 16 accredited living wage employers across Greater Manchester, I counted them up two days ago and we now have 48, which is quite pleasing really, it’s a 300% increase," Tom said.


      ‘‘Greater Manchester was really quite behind on this, and I feel it’s caught up or is catching up with others. So yeah that side of things is really very pleasing’’.


      Bosses from businesses across Greater Manchester were present at the Living Wage Foundation announcement on Monday, which was hosted by Kate Green MP and included speakers from the Salford City Council, YMCA Wirral, Citizens UK and Nationwide, amongst others.


      There was also a touchingly personal speech from YMCA Wirral staff member Dave Morton, who spoke of his difficulty to afford basic things such as regular heating and transport to work before the living wage was implemented by his company.

      A research conducted by YMCA Wirral into staff wellbeing


      Tom would consider a double in the amount of businesses in the area being living wage accredited in the next year a ‘great achievement’, and he hopes that even the companies that don’t go the full distance will be able to help change the lives of their own employers by gradually building towards the living wage.


      ‘‘If we put a lot of our time and resources into some really huge employers that get most of the way then that’s changed the living reality of more workers than if two or three really small employers become accredited, so I wouldn’t want to give names but we’re really engaging very much in that kind of way with one or two very large employers who we would love to get accredited, but if they don’t we think the results are going to be effective’’.


      Last month FC United became the first football club to implement the Living Wage, and Tom hopes that bigger clubs in the area such as Manchester City and Manchester United can follow suit.


      ‘‘Manchester City are engaging with it. There’s a group of their fans who’ve been talking to them about this for quite some time and Manchester City do say now that they pay all of their directly employed staff the living wage, which is very good but of course like a lot of big organisations most of their low paid workers are hidden in the contracts and the sub-contracted workers, and at the moment that’s where the sticking points are’’.


      ‘‘We’ve had a bit less progress with Manchester United unfortunately’’.


      Although Salford City Council have fully embraced the campaign and three others are paying the living wage to their in-house staff, other councils across Greater Manchester have been slightly less responsive and Tom admits that they have had to try and stop them from dropping any reference to the Living Wage Campaign in relation to their own set living wage, which simply confuses matters.

      There is clearly progress being made though, with some councils stating they want to be paying the living wage in the next year or two, with only one or two making no reference to it when they talk about their own lowest rate of pay.


      The Living Wage Foundation in London is further down the line terms of progress as it has been running for 13 years now, and Brent council this week became the first council to offer incentives to the biggest employers signing up to the voluntary pay rate, a scheme that Tom describes as ‘brilliant’.


      ‘‘I always say this; when people are paid the living wage, there are some that don’t need to take on a second job," he added.

      "Now what can they do with that time? Some might start up new things. They might volunteer, they might give back to their community, they might set up new businesses, new charities, new social enterprises and become entrepreneurs.


      ‘‘They might create more employment opportunities for more people and pay business rates themselves. So I think in the long term creating a better local economy will always be worth it’’.


      There are now over 1,000 accredited living wage organisations in the UK, and according to the Guardian over 60,000 are set to get a pay rise after a surge of firms sign up to the campaign, but Tom knows there is still a lot of work to do.


      ‘‘It shows how far we have to go as well though, there’s five million people paid less than the living wage in this country, and the national movement for the living wage has achieved great success in engaging and involving workers directly and changing pay for tens of thousands of workers, but there’s a huge amount still to do’’.

      An example of the living wage being implemented

      By Jack Gordon-Brown