At least 180,000 people whose bosses are Living Wage employers will see a boost to their pay packets as the Living Wage Foundation increases its rate to £9 an hour outside London and £10.55 in the capital.
The ‘real’ Living Wage is a rate set by the Foundation each year that’s calculated as the minimum needed to maintain a decent standard of living. Companies who sign up to be Living Wage employers pledge to pay all their staff at least the Living Wage, including workers who are subcontracted.
The Living Wage Foundation has said this year’s increases to its rate are largely driven by higher transport costs, private rents and council tax hikes.
The number of Living Wage employers has risen every year and now stands at 4,700 in the UK, including over 1,500 in London.
The real Living Wage is not to be confused from the government’s National Living Wage, a re-branding of the mandatory minimum wage which is now set at only £7.83 an hour and has continued to lose its value as the cost of living soars.
Living Wage Foundation director Tess Lanning explained why paying the real Living Wage was so important.
“Employers that pay the real Living Wage enable their workers to live a life of dignity, supporting them to pay off debts and meet the pressures of rising bills,” she said.
“We want to see local councils, universities, football clubs, bus companies and the other major public and private sector employers in every city commit to become real living wage employers.”
Unite has long been a champion of the real Living Wage and has been successful in pressuring and negotiating with employers to sign up to be Living Wage companies.
Most recently, Unite notched up a victory in September in its campaign to make London’s largest social enterprise leisure services’ provider Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) pay the London Living Wage (LLW) to those aged 18-to-20.
Following pressure from Unite, Waltham Forest council has agreed that staff working for GLL aged 18 to 20 will be paid the London Living Wage from October. This follows on from a victory over the summer when Tower Hamlets council brought forward an agreement with GLL to pay those aged 18-20 the LLW from this September backdated to April.
Airport staff at both Luton and Gatwick airports are now gearing up for strike action in their own fight to pressure their bosses to pay the Living Wage.
Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner urged more employers to sign up to the real Living Wage.
“It’s great news that more and more companies are signing up to be Living Wage employers and showing that they care about their workforce,” he said. “But let’s remember that most bosses don’t pay up out of their own free will – it’s often only when workers and their unions take a stand and demand a Living Wage that employers listen.”
“With the latest increase in the real Living Wage, the government’s disgraceful minimum wage – cynically rebranded the ‘National Living Wage’ – is becoming further and further disconnected from the real cost of living.
“Only the Labour party – with its pledge to introduce a £10 an hour statutory minimum wage and revive sectoral collective bargaining – working together with trade unions can ensure a decent standard of living for all people regardless of which industry they work in or where they live.”