At the Cheshire East Council Cabinet meeting in February a motion to campaign for all in Cheshire East to be paid a Living Wage of at least £7.45 per hour was proposed & seconded by Labour Councillors Brian Roberts and Nick Mannion.
The Labour Group launched a successful campaign for a living wage for all Cheshire East Council staff in December 2012 and are now widening the campaign to cover staff of Council contractors and all Cheshire East workers.
At the Cabinet meeting the Conservatives claimed that they could not interfere in private enterprises with whom Cheshire East Council contracted, but any procurement officer knows this is not true. Open book contracts with your suppliers can be pretty standard in this day and age; and if you have open book contracts you can easily include decent hourly rates for staff.
This is what PricewaterhouseCoopers say about the living wage.
“We all benefit. Since we adopted the Living Wage in 2006, turnover [of employees] amongst our contractors has dropped from 4% to 1%, reducing costs for our suppliers and contributing to a more consistent service for our business.”
Here is a major accountancy firm reaching the conclusion that treating your staff decently is good for your business, but the local Conservatives still rejected the proposal put forward by Cllrs Roberts and Mannion.
David Newton, Leader of the Labour Group, told the Cheshire East Cabinet that the Living Wage was a far better way to deal with problems of poverty, than attacking welfare benefits. He said, "George Osborne says that he is keen to support work, 'to make work pay'. Why, then, are so many people who are in work, having to rely on benefits to give them a decent standard of living? Increasing the minimum wage to a living wage, as proposed in this motion, would not only lift many working people out of the welfare net, and recognise the dignity of work, but also reduce the need for taxpayers to subsidise companies so that they can continue to pay low wages. I welcome the recommendation to Cabinet to look further into how the living wage might be introduced in Cheshire East. It is not difficult to do. It simply requires the will to do so."
Brian Roberts, Labour Councillor for Crewe West, said, “Cheshire East Council pays for places at many Care Homes where workers are paid at the National Minimum Wage. The Council should not try to duck its responsibilities to ensure that all workers in Cheshire East are treated fairly. If the Council is paying for places at Care Homes then they can easily insist that workers there are treated fairly and paid a Living Wage.”
Nick Mannion, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield West & Ivy, said, “We should not forget that the normal National Minimum Wage rates do not apply to workers under 25. A Living Wage would stop young people being exploited.