Coun­cil staff de­nied liv­ing wage till 2016

The Oban Times - - Front Page -

AR­GYLL and Bute Coun­cil told The Oban Times this week that al­though it is a liv­ing wage em­ployer it won’t pay the full £8.25 an hour to its low­est paid staff un­til April 2016, writes Louise Glen.

The pay rise of 40 pence was in­tro­duced by other liv­ing wage em­ploy­ers on Novem­ber 1. The lo­cal author­ity is cur­rently ad­ver­tis­ing posts claim­ing to pay the liv­ing wage in Taynuilt, Camp­bel­town, Oban, He­lens­burgh, but ex­cludes Mod­ern Ap­pren­tice­ships from the scheme.

A mo­tion passed at the lo­cal author­ity in De­cem­ber 2012 meant work­ers on the low­est salaries would have their wages in­creased by more than £2 to en­sure they were earn­ing the liv­ing wage – a cost to the lo­cal author­ity of £250,000.

A coun­cil spokesman ini­tially told The Oban Times: ‘The coun­cil is a liv­ing wage em­ployer.’ But when chal­lenged that it was not reg­is­tered with the Liv­ing Wage Foun­da­tion, he said: ‘The rea­son we are not a liv­ing wage em­ployer is that al­though we pay the liv­ing wage to all of our employees, we can­not get ac­cred­i­ta­tion from the Liv­ing Wage Foun­da­tion as we have con­trac­tors work­ing, pre­dom­i­nantly on our premises, who do not pay the liv­ing wage.

‘We can­not make the liv­ing wage a re­quire­ment of pro­cure­ment as this is il­le­gal un­der EU pro­cure­ment leg­is­la­tion.’

In clar­i­fy­ing the coun­cil’s po­si­tion, a spokes­woman said: ‘In line with the ne­go­ti­ated pay set­tle­ment agreed with Con­ven­tion of Scot­tish Lo­cal Au­thor­i­ties (CoSLA), Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil pays the liv­ing wage of £7.85 per hour to all employees (plus 1.5 per cent which will be back dated to April 2015).

‘From April 2016 the coun­cil will pay the new liv­ing wage of £8.25 per hour (plus one per cent again as agreed by CoSLA).’

A spokesman for the Tax­pay­ers Al­liance said he was sur­prised the lo­cal author­ity couldn’t stretch to pay­ing its work­ers an ex­tra 40 pence an hour when two of its employees had earned more than £100,000 in 2014/2015.

He said: ‘Chief ex­ec­u­tive Sally Loudon earned £121,817 – an in­crease of more than £7,232 from the pre­vi­ous year, and three of­fi­cers earned in ex­cess of £92,000, all with in­creases in salary from the pre­vi­ous year.’

The coun­cil spokesman de­clined to com­ment on the dif­fer­ence be­tween its high­est and low­est paid staff mem­bers.

The Liv­ing Wage Foun­da­tion said it would in­ves­ti­gate the lo­cal author­ity’s claims that it pays the liv­ing wage.

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