Unite celebrated a major victory today (June 28) after Tower Hamlets council announced it had reached an agreement with an outsourcing firm that will now pay young people the London Living Wage (LLW).
Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), which runs services such as libraries and swimming pools for nine different London boroughs, had previously failed to pay people aged 18-20 the LLW of £10.20 an hour, despite Tower Hamlets being an accredited Living Wage employer.
Councils which are accredited by the Living Wage Foundation have as part of their accreditation pledged to pay the London Living Wage to all their workers, whether or not they are directly employed. Thanks to concerted Unite campaigning, GLL in Tower Hamlets now joins Greenwich, Hackney and Islington in paying its workers regardless of age the Living Wage rate.
“We regard this as a significant victory in our campaign to achieve LLW pay justice for young people employed in London boroughs by GLL,” said Unite regional officer Onay Kasab.
Unite has previously highlighted the hypocrisy of GLL, which bills itself as a ‘social enterprise’ and at the same time doesn’t pay its workers a Living Wage.
GLL had previously agreed to pay the LLW to Tower Hamlets workers under the age of 21 by April 2019 but, thanks to Unite piling on the pressure, the agreement was brought forward to September of this year. What’s more, Tower Hamlets council will pay for the increase to be backdated from April.
“The increase will be from £8.10 per hour to the LLW of £10.20 an hour – that’s an increase of 21 per cent on the hourly rate,” Kasab pointed out.
“This is a great win for young workers,” he added. “We made the point, again and again, that the high cost of living in London impacts on workers no matter what your age. There is no young person’s discount on food and rent – and so there should be no age discrimination on wages either.
“We believe that up to 1,000 young people in London have been ‘short changed’ by GLL over the LLW – and we will not cease our fight until pay justice has been achieved for young people working for GLL in one of the world’s most expensive cities,” he went on to say.
Unite regional officer for young members Mercedes Sanchez urged councils to “which have negotiated lower pay rates for young workers employed by contractors follow the fine example set by Tower Hamlets.”
“This shows that there is no obstacle, legal or otherwise, stopping councils and GLL doing the right thing. This also, once again, shows the value of union membership and organisation,” she added. “Nobody else took this issue up. Unite will now press ahead with our campaign for pay justice on all contracts.”