Today we celebrated a 600% increase in the number of Living Wage Employers since our launch two years ago, at a special event hosed by University of Salford in Media City.
The event also saw the unveiling of the new Living Wage rate – now £8.25 per hour, meaning a pay rise for thousands of workers in Greater Manchester.
The North West Living Wage Champion Awards were also announced, with Manchester businesses taking both awards – Salut Wines were given the Employers’ Award, for “organisations that have gone above and beyond to promote the Living Wage “, while Ann-Marie Hopkins from Procure Plus received the Leadership award, recognising “the life changing impact she has made by leading the way on the Living Wage Campaign within communities. ”
- Christian Spence, Head of Research & Policy at the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, the first Chamber in the company to become a Living Wage Employer
- Sara Saunby, Co-founder & owner of Salut Wines, winner of the 2015 NW Living Wage Champion Awards
- The Salford Youth Mayor Lewis Nelson
- Strategic Assistant Mayor of Salford, Councillor Paul Dennett
- Chris Dabbs, Director of Innovation at Unlimited Potential
- Tom Skinner, Coordinator of the Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign
- Caroline Reilly, Living Wage Foundation
Tom Skinner said, “The number of Living Wage Employers, coupled with the new Living Wage rate of £8.25 per hour, means a pay rise for thousands of the lowest-paid workers across Greater Manchester. But there are still a quarter of a million people earning less than the Living Wage here. We have a lot to do, but we have an ambition of becoming the first Living Wage City Region and employer by employer, employee by employee we’re having a big impact.”
Christian Spence reported that at the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce’s Autumn Assembly in October, the vast majority of attendees voted to support the Chamber’s proactive stance on Living Wage. He outlined some of the rewards for businesses who can pay the Living Wage when they choose to do so ” From the UK and international evidence, we can point to bottom line savings for business. Paying the Living Wage can help improve staff retention, productivity and output. ”
Sara Saunby said, “85% of all bar staff and 70% of all sales and retail assistants are paid below a Living Wage so it would have been very easy for Salut to pay minimum wage and still get employees. But from start-up we made our minimum wage the Living Wage, being the first retailer in the whole North-West to do so. We work on the basis that if we look after our staff, they’ll look after our customers and they look after our business. We have constant feedback about how good the team is, comments on the fact that we’ve still got the same team we started with, and the customers love being recognised when they walk in. Happy folk all round!” She also recorded this message explaining more about why she is a Living Wage Employer.
Councillor Paul Dennett described the low rates of pay for apprentices as a “national disgrace” and highlighted that Salford City Council pays the Living Wage to all of its apprentices because it should not be assumed that apprentices don’t have children and that they live with their parents.
Chris Dabbs spoke about the importance of the Living Wage in improving people’s health and well-being, and knock-on effects on businesses and on society
With regard to the government’s minimum wage premium for over-25s (sometimes referred to as the “National Living Wage”), which will come into force in April 2016 and which is more than £1 an hour below the Living Wage,
Sara Saunby said, “Just calling a wage a ‘living wage’ is rather insulting if it’s not enough to live on – sorry Mr Osborne. How can a minimum wage be a minimum when it is not enough to live on? A business is only viable if its employees can afford to live.”
Councillor Paul Dennett added, “Young people being excluded from Osborne’s new NLW will cost under-25s in Salford over £1million a year.” However he pointed out that the minimum wage premium for over-25s, as well as the House of Lords’ vote on tax credits last week, show that the Living Wage campaign is helping to change public policy, as there is growing concern about the problems of low incomes.
Salford Youth Mayor Lewis Nelson reported that in their recent the Youth Parliament survey, Salford had a 33.6% turnout, with ‘a Living Wage for all’ coming out as the top issue for young people. He said “Young people are asking ‘Why is my labour worth less?’ ‘Why do I do the same work for less pay?’” He also recorded this message in support of the Living Wage.
These talks were followed by workshops, exploring how to implement the Living Wage and encourage others to do so, and how to make Greater Manchester a Living Wage City Region.
The feedback was excellent and we look forward to putting the fresh ideas into action! The next steps will be discussed at our next meeting from 2-4pm on 24th November, watch this space for the venue TBC!