“Living Wage” for council staff

Coun. Mark Townsend
Coun. Mark Townsend

BURNLEY Council will introduce a Living Wage policy for its staff.

As reported previously in the Burnley Express, the council had been considering introducing the scheme which would ensure that its lowest hourly rate was enough for employees and their families to meet the basic cost of living.

Introducing the policy, the Executive member for resources Coun. Mark Townsend said at the time: “No-one should have to do a hard day’s work for less than they can live on. We realise times are tight for everyone and we all have to make sacrifices.

“However, that doesn’t mean that Burnley Council, as a responsible employer, shouldn’t take the lead in looking at ways of making sure its lowest paid staff are receiving a reasonable wage.

“We have to make sure the council’s lowest hourly rate is enough for staff and their families to meet the basic cost of living.”

But the Conservative member for resources Coun. Matthew Isherwood urged members not to vote for it.

He said: “The Living Wage is a dangerous precedent. We should not vote for it until we are in possession of the key facts.”

But his comments were met with jeers in the chamber and Coun. Townsend who hit back saying: “His party said exactly the same thing in 1997 when the Government wanted to introduce the Minimum Wage.

“His comments are absolutely ridiculous. Will he be shoving children up chimneys next?”

His colleague Coun. Marcus Johnstone said “paying people properly is morally right and economically justified.”

The council employs around 500 staff. A total of 17 temporary or permanent staff, mainly cleaners, currently earn less than the Living Wage. A further 29 casual workers would also see their pay packets increase. The cost of moving to a Living Wage is estimated at around £10,000 to the council.