Swale Council adopted the Living Wage at last week’s annual budget setting meeting after voting through an amendment moved by Labour’s Cllr Mike Haywood and seconded by Cllr Martin McCusker.
In a completely unexpected move 10 members of the Conservative group joined the two Independents and sole UKIP Councillor to support the amendment. All 7 Labour councillors present voted for the amendment making a total 20 For, 13 Against and 5 abstentions.
Speaking to the Full Council, Mike Haywood said:
“We have 38 members of staff who will benefit from a small uplift in their wages to the Living Wage. That’s one in ten of the work force at Swale Borough Council.
“Most of them are women working part-time or employed on casual contracts. They are the cleaners, benefits advisors, beach combers and sports coaches.
“They are all on the lowest pay Grades in the Council. Those on grade 1 point 2 earn £6.46 per hour, and those on grade 2 point 1 earn £7.31 per hour. Both will receive an increase taking them up to £7.45 per hour if we make the right decision tonight.
“For the majority of these 38 members of staff, the uplift to a Living Wage is the equivalent to an extra 14p an hour. That’s the cost of a small jar of strawberry conserve from the new Morrison’s store in Sittingbourne.
“The people who will benefit from a Living Wage are typical of the people who are not included in the unemployment figures released this week.
“They are the people in work for whom a little bit extra would go a long way who are trying to make ends meet and would contribute to the local economy by spending their money in the local shops.
“This is good for Swale and it is good for business; it sends out an important message to local employers that paying hard-working staff the Living Wage is a good thing to do.”
Labour’s amendment read:
“The Council wishes to adopt the Living Wage at £7.45 per hour for its lowest paid employees for the benefit of the local economy and to send a hugely important message to local employers that valuing and retaining staff should be one of our priorities in these tough economic times. This to be funded by an additional £21,000 taken from Creative Services.”