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Local Govenment Service Group Conference Bournemouth June 2012

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Campaign for Fair Pay and a Living Wage

Local Government Conference threw its wage behind a wide ranging strategy to challenge pay restraint, reject regional pay and campaign for fair pay and a living wage of £7.20 an hour.

Kate Ramsden
Kate Ramsden
Brenda Aitchison
Brenda Aitchison
Stephen Smellie
Stephen Smellie
Stephanie Herd
Stephanie Herd
 

A series of motions and composites deplored the attacks on public sector pay and their impact on women, the low paid and the equalities agenda.

Aberdeenshire's Kate Ramsden told delegates that a living wage was crucial to ensuring that all members get a wage they can survive on, and the Fair Pay Campaign in Scotland would campaign for all councils to introduce this.

"In Aberdeenshire we have just negotiated the Living Wage. But that should be in place for all members, wherever they work and whoever they work for," she said.

In her first speech to Conference, Brenda Aitchison from South Lanarkshire told of the increasing poverty faced by low paid members in her branch - the working poor.

She slammed the widening gap between the rich and the poor.

"Poll after poll tell us that people know that Cameron, Osbourne and Clegg, the Chipping Norton Set, have no idea what life is like for working people.

"It is our job in the trade union movement to galvanise our people and the wider community to fight back," said Brenda.

South Lanarkshire's Stephen Smellie said that the refusal of the Scottish Joint Council to agree the Living Wage at a Scottish level has lead to branches engaging in negotiations at local level.

Pointing to a number of successes in Glasgow and other councils, Stephen said, "With the Manifesto commitments of both Labour and the SNP as a result of our political campaigning, we are hopeful that by next year all councils in Scotland will be Living Wage employers."

He warned, however, that this has pushed us into local pay bargaining which could lead to a weakening of national pay bargaining. UNISON in Scotland is continuing to seek a national agreement on the Living Wage which would consolidate the local agreements into a national pay structure.

"It is crucial that we step up national campaigns and reject regional pay and local pay bargaining," he said.

Stephanie Herd, Chair of the Scottish Local Government Committee, gave a presentation on Scotland's Fair Pay Campaign which is calling for a £1000 flat rate increase and a Living Wage in all councils of £7.20.

She told conference that the cost of a living wage is affordable and achievable if two thirds of all local councillors remember their election promises.

"We know that proper investment in the workforce improves the lives of low paid workers and their families - that's the moral argument won!" said Stephanie.

"But it also pays dividends for employers in improved productivity, reduced absenteeism and reduced recruitment costs through improved retention. Benefits that can help employers offset the cost of introducing a Living Wage.

"Politicians and our employers know the value of the services we provide. What they don't acknowledge is the worth of the workforce.

"Our campaign highlights the need to pay all workers a decent legal wage. It's a fight we need to win for our low paid members."

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Local Government Conference 2012
Bournemouth International Centre