Call for council staff to have ‘living wage’

tis  Harrogate Council building.  (140131M1d)
tis Harrogate Council building. (140131M1d)
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Council workers should be paid more than the minimum wage, councillors have said.

A motion calling on Harrogate Borough Council to pay staff the ‘living wage’ was approved by the human resources committee last week and will go before the cabinet and then the full council for a final decision.

If approved, 74 employees would see their pay packet increase and external contractors would also be expected to pay staff the living wage.

Coun John Savage (Liberal, Marston Moor) proposed the motion.

He said: “Let’s face it this is not the cheapest town to live in, a lot of people must be really struggling, even if they are in work and are only earning minimum wage.

“It is something that we should be doing. If places like the council can set an example then other employers may look at doing the same.”

The ‘living wage’ is based on the cost of living and is currently £7.65 and £8.80 in London. The council estimates it would cost around £78,000 a year to pay this salary to the council’s lowest paid staff including; cleaners, seasonal gardeners, nursery assistants, Turkish bath assistants and planning support assistants.

Coun Savage said: “Obviously there is going to be a cost, but our staff should be earning the living wage.”

Coun Greta Knight (Lib Dem, Woodfield) voted in favour of the motion at the human resources committee meeting on October 22.

She said: “I supported it because I don’t think anyone should have to work for less than the living wage. Any employer with any morals should be doing it.

“It will have a huge impact, it is important for people and their own sense of worth.

“The numbers involved were small but I understand it is a controversial subject but if people get paid this wage it will help to reduce the number of people on benefits.

“We are hardly going to be trail blazers on this, 115 councils in the UK already pay the living wage.”

In Yorkshire and Humberside many councils including Barnsley, Calderdale, Doncaster, Rotherham,Scarborough, Sheffield, Wakefield and York already pay their staff the living wage.

Coun Robert Windass (Con, Boroughbridge) abstained from voting but said he was pleased the motion was passed.

“It is not going to cost a fortune, lets do something and show we are a good employer. There are some questions over the sub-contractors and how the arrangement will work with them.”

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