Real Liv­ing Wage is good for every­one – staff and em­ploy­ers

East Kilbride News - - NEWS -

Last week was the Liv­ing Wage Foun­da­tion’s Liv­ing Wage Week – and East Kil­bride helped the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment mark the oc­ca­sion.

I vis­ited con­struc­tion com­pany AKP Scot­land Ltd, based in the Kelvin, along with Keith Brown, the cab­i­net sec­re­tary for econ­omy, jobs and fair work.

And we heard how be­com­ing ac­cred­ited with the Liv­ing Wage Foun­da­tion brings ben­e­fits to em­ploy­ees, and makes sense to em­ploy­ers.

So, what is the real Liv­ing Wage?

Well, it’s a vol­un­tary com­mit­ment for em­ploy­ers and set at £8.75 per hour from April next year, whereas the UK Gov­ern­ment’s statu­tory Na­tional Liv­ing Wage (as re­cently re­named) is £7.50 – quite a dif­fer­ence.

The real Liv­ing Wage rates are higher be­cause they are in­de­pen­dently-cal­cu­lated and are based on what peo­ple need to get by.

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to this ex­cel­lent ini­tia­tive as pro­moted by the Poverty Al­liance, and dur­ing last week the tar­get of reach­ing 1000 ac­cred­ited em­ploy­ers by au­tumn 2017 was reached.

This is the high­est rate in the UK – Scot­land is the best per­form­ing of all four UK coun­tries.

We are home to 1000 of the 3500 ac­cred­ited com­pa­nies with 81.6 per cent of Scot­tish work­ers earn­ing the real Liv­ing Wage.

For many work­ing peo­ple, it helps bring some re­lief when squeezed by stag­nant wages and ris­ing in­fla­tion.

Bet­ter paid work is the best weapon against poverty, in­equal­ity and lack of op­por­tu­nity.

Hav­ing a de­cent wage can help peo­ple pro­vide for their fam­i­lies, build self-worth and cre­ate a sense of pur­pose.

The ev­i­dence shows, too, that from the em­ployer’s point of view, by pay­ing the Real Liv­ing Wage they can ben­e­fit from in­creased com­mit­ment and loy­alty, re­duced ab­sen­teeism, higher pro­duc­tiv­ity and en­hanced rep­u­ta­tion.

Bet­ter wages surely mean a bet­ter com­pany and bet­ter work­ers.

Two-thirds of Real Liv­ing Wage em­ploy­ers re­port a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on re­cruit­ment and re­ten­tion, whilst 70 per cent of them felt that there was in­creased cus­tomer aware­ness of their sta­tus as an eth­i­cal em­ployer.

In East Kil­bride, of course, and be­yond, there are many more em­ploy­ers who do pay the Real Liv­ing Wage – but we want to en­cour­age them to regis­ter with the Liv­ing Wage Foun­da­tion, to show their com­mit­ment to fair­ness at work and en­cour­age oth­ers.

Un­for­tu­nately, there are many em­ploy­ers who don’t pay the Real Liv­ing Wage at all, so the pos­i­tive ad­vo­cacy of those that have made the change is im­por­tant.

That im­por­tance was recog­nised at Fri­day’s meet­ing ar­ranged by the Poverty Al­liance and hosted at our own ex­cel­lent South La­nark­shire Col­lege.

The speak­ers were en­thu­si­as­tic about the Liv­ing Wage Foun­da­tion Scheme, the col­lege it­self be­came an ac­cred­ited Liv­ing Wage Em­ployer some time ago.

South La­nark­shire Coun­cil was ably rep­re­sented by Coun­cil­lor John An­der­son, with an­other in­spir­ing East Kil­bride com­pany, The Fur­nish­ing Ser­vice, and the well-re­spected en­gi­neer­ing com­pany DBA com­plet­ing the East Kil­bride line-up. Fair work mat­ters. That’s why the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment set up the fair work con­ven­tion, with rep­re­sen­ta­tion from busi­nesses and aca­demics, pub­lic sec­tor and trades’ unions.

Its stated aim is to pro­vide the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment with clear, in­de­pen­dent ad­vice in re­la­tion to fair work prac­tices within Scot­land.

The pow­ers we have in Scot­land are lim­ited in re­la­tion to em­ploy­ment law and prac­tice.

But we are de­ter­mined to do what we can; pro­mo­tion of the Real Liv­ing Wage and the Scot­tish Busi­ness Pledge is im­por­tant.

End­ing ex­ploita­tive zero hours con­tracts, en­cour­ag­ing equal­ity in the work­place and end­ing trial shifts are just some of the steps we pro­mote.

The role of de­cent pay can­not be un­der­es­ti­mated.

East Kil­bride has al­ways been an in­no­va­tive town for busi­ness.

And busi­nesses de­pend on their peo­ple.

I was de­lighted to see in in the town this week that em­ploy­ers recog­nise this.

As was said over and over again: “Pay­ing the Real Liv­ing Wage is not only good for busi­ness – it’s the right thing to do”.

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