Council staff denied living wage till 2016
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.