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City of York Council’s promise on ‘living wage’
MORE than 500 of the lowest-paid workers at City of York Council could be in line for a pay rise.
Senior officials and councillors have pledged to ensure that all employees receive a rate of at least £7.20 an hour, recently recommended as a living wage by York’s Fairness Commission.
Council figures show that more than 500 workers, about 8.4 per cent of the workforce, are paid less than this.
Council leader James Alexander said: “We as an authority should be leading the way in saying that the job somebody does for us should not leave them unable to properly support themselves.
“We are committed to the implementation of a living wage in York, as many other councils are doing up and down the country.”
He said officers were preparing proposals to bring to the cabinet at a future date, but the council said it was not yet possible to say how they would foot the bill for the extra payments or what it would cost.
Pauline Stuchfield, assistant director of customer & business support services, said: “The council is committed to exploring in detail how it can achieve a living wage for all council-employed staff and will work hard to encourage schools, partners and other businesses across York to do the same.”
She said the authority currently employed 6,521 members of staff, 3,067 of whom worked in schools.
“All of these staff are paid above the minimum wage [£6.08],” she said. “About 550 of these staff are currently not receiving the living wage of £7.20 per hour.”
The York Fairness Commission, sponsored by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, was formed last year with the aim of ensuring none of York’s residents are forgotten amid the recession.
The Press reported last month that the commission’s landmark report, outlining how York should tackle inequality and poverty, specifically called for wages to be set at a level allowing a “minimum socially acceptable standard of living”.
London’s living wage was calculated at £8.30 an hour, with the figure elsewhere being £7.20. The national hourly minimum wage is £6.08.
The report said the council should set a “realistic time frame” for introducing a living wage policy and promote the approach to businesses and other local authorities.
Heather McKenzie, of the union Unison, welcomed the council’s commitment to a living wage, saying: “We are really pleased and hope they will begin discussions with unions within weeks about how this is going to be implemented.”
She understood that some examples of employees who might benefit included cleaners, some admin staff and some school mid-day supervisors.