GMB North West & Irish Region
21 January 2013

Sheffield City Council will approve plans to introduce the Living Wage for Sheffield City Council workers at next week’s cabinet meeting. 

This means that no Sheffield City Council employees will earn less than £7.20 an hour – rising to £7.45 from April. Postcode Gazette first revealed the plans back in October and the measure forms the centrepiece of the council’s fairness commission which is due to publish its findings at the end of the month. Council chiefs hope that by taking the lead on addressing low pay they will encourage other public sector organisations and companies to follow suit. 

The idea of a living wage – higher than the national minimum wage of £6.18 an hour - is to better reflect the costs of living in cities. The measure will raise the take-home pay of 275 of the town hall’s lowest paid workers. Council Leader Julie Dore said that adopting the living wage will help to reduce poverty and ensures the council “leads by example”. “By implementing the living wage no one will earn less than £7.20 per hour in the council and we will work with employers across the city in other parts of the public sector as well as the private and voluntary sectors to make sure that this has a big impact across the city,” she said. 

Coun Dore added: “It is the poorest who are being hit hardest by the government’s failure to grow the economy, this is an achievable, pragmatic way of supporting people on low incomes across the city and I am pleased that we are able to take it forward.” 

Peter Davies from the GMB union, which represents many of the authority’s lowest-paid workers, welcomed the living wage as a “brave, bold and refreshing move.” 

However he urged the council to make sure that the measure also includes workers in outsourced parts of the council where it is not currently set to apply. 

Mr. Davies claimed that many of the council’s contractors have rebuffed calls to implement a living wage, including, Taylor Shaw and Mellors (school catering), Carillion (school cleaning), Eurest (academy catering), Vinci (academy facilities) and ULT. He added that “it is looking doubtful” that either Capita of Sheffield International Venues (SIV) will pay the living wage either. 

The GMB and other unions are set to step-up their campaign to see staff in these companies pay the living wage “and we will not rule out industrial action if partners fail to pay up”, he warned.