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Campaign for Living Wage
Musings from Medway
Tristan Osborne

June 2, 2010
View the Original Article

Leadership contender, Ed Miliband has launched his 'Living Wage' campaign to highlight why, when some of the leading company chief executives can make millions, there security guard or cleaner, doesn't get a living wage.

It remains a major issue of justice, fairness and a belief in dignity of work.

The campaign for a 'Living Wage' wishes to create a minimum hourly wage necessary for housing, food and other basic needs for an individual.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has set out a methodology to calculate the level of pay that an average family with two working adults and two children would need to earn to fulfil basic needs. It does not cover ‘wants’ such as a car or holidays.£7.60 is the living wage for London. The rate would vary in other parts of the UK, but £7.14 has been suggested as a national average.

Who suffers from poverty pay?

In 2008, 5 million employees in the UK were paid less than £7 per hour. Two-fifths of all part-time workers were paid less than £7 per hour in the same year . Around two-fifths of people from ethnic minorities live in low-income households, twice the rate for non-BME workers. The 2009 annual report by the Low Pay Commission states that the four largest low paying sectors in the UK are retail, hospitality, social care, and cleaning respectively:

The Living Wage will:

* Create an increased incentive for employers to invest in workers (e.g., training, opportunities for career progression, better health and safety).

* Result in a reduction in the need for tax credits and benefit payments. It may also indirectly reduce costs in education, health care and policing — by improving life opportunities for employees and their children.

* Improve productivity, reduce staff turnover of staff and lower absenteeism.

Over the last decade the fight against poverty pay in the public and private sectors has continued through the innovative campaigning work of grassroots community organisations, faith groups and trade unions.