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Local Government Service Group Conference Liverpool 18-21 June 2013

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Poverty wages – a publicly funded pay scandal

Hazel Marshall
Hazel Marshall

UNISON will lead a campaign to ensure that every council in the UK and all companies contracted to provide public services, pay the Living Wage to their workers.

Delegates overwhelmingly supported a call from South Lanarkshire Branch to end the scandal of poverty pay for workers delivering public services.

Hazel Marshall told conference that the national minimum wage is a national poverty wage and she celebrated UNISON’s campaigning for the Living Wage which was introduced by South Lanarkshire two years ago and which is now £7.56 an hour,

“Certainly no King’s ransom,” said Hazel, “But I do believe it is something to be highlighted... and a testimony to the benefits of trade union membership and UNISON campaigning.”

“However, not one Scottish Council has sought to extend the Living Wage through procurement and external contractors,” she added. “This means that public money is going to contractors to provide public services employing workers on national minimum poverty wages – mostly women and often on zero hours contracts. This is a publicly funded pay scandal,” slammed Hazel.

The Scottish Government has cited European advice that it would be illegal for councils to insert clauses into contracts to require employers to pay the Living Wage. “This is not acceptable,” said Hazel, pointing to Glasgow City Council who intend to challenge the Scottish Government with their own legal advice.

She called on UNISON to step up its campaigning and to name and shame councils and contractors who insist on paying poverty wages, and to press councils to use procurement to ensure a Living Wage for all staff.






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