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Council could adopt minimum staff salary above real living wage

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Swansea Council could become the first Welsh council to adopt a minimum staff salary of £10 per hour.

Its ruling cabinet today (Thursday 17 February) recommended to a full council meeting next month that the budget be approved to support this minimum salary proposal of £10 per hour.

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If approved, it would be implemented from April 1 this year and would be above the UK’s voluntary real living wage rate of £9.90.

The real living wage is based on what people need to live. Its calculation is made according to the cost of living, based on a basket of household goods and services.

Council leader Rob Stewart said: “Our staff and key workers have been amazing throughout the pandemic, delivering essential services to the people of Swansea every day – from providing care and support, to ensuring bins are collected, and major projects are delivered.

“It’s right that we recognise the amazing collective effort, especially as we’re faced with the cost-of-living crisis.

“I’m really proud that we’ve been able to work with trades unions to get to this stage and – if agreed next month – this move will raise salaries immediately for the lowest paid, ensuring they’re paid above the real living wage.”

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Joint deputy leader David Hopkins said: “The real living wage rates are higher than statutory rates because they’re independently calculated based on what people need to get by.

“I want our employees to earn a wage that meets the costs of living, not just the government minimum.

“I want to support our workforce and this payment would recognise the exemplary duties that workers across the council have undertaken during the pandemic.

“As well as the benefits this would bring to the workforce, there are also clearly identified benefits to the council as an employer that leads the way.”

GMB branch secretary Dorothy Gordon said: “GMB are pleased that the council could soon be paying their lower paid workers a £10 per hour minimum wage. We’ve been negotiating with the authority for 18 months on behalf of our members – and we’ll continue to campaign for them.”

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UNISON secretary Chris Cooze said: “UNISON, as the largest union in the authority, has been campaigning for a £10 minimum wage. It’s fantastic to see Swansea looking to set the standard that hopefully other Welsh councils will follow.”

Jason Strannigan, branch secretary of the council’s Unite branch, said: “We’ve been working closely with the council to reward lower paid workers with a £10 living wage. This minimum wage would help them with the rising living costs.”

The real living wage is a UK wage rate that’s voluntarily paid by businesses that believe their staff deserve a wage which meets everyday needs – like the weekly shop, or a surprise trip to the dentist.

Across the UK, almost 300,000 employees have received a pay rise as a result of the Living Wage campaign.

UK statutory pay rates include the £8.36 minimum wage for under-23s and the £8.91 national living wage for over 23s. The current real living wage for over 17s is £11.05 in London and £9.90 across the rest of the UK.

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(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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