Monday, 5 March 2012

UNISON defends Council Living Wage from attack by MSP

Monday 5 March 2012
News release from UNISON South Lanarkshire:

Margaret Mitchell Conservative MSP for Central Scotland has been criticised by union leaders and Councillor Jackie Burns, Deputy Leader of South Lanarkshire Council.

Mitchell has criticised South Lanarkshire Council for the implementation of a Living Wage of £7.20 from 1st April, claiming the cost will lead to cuts in services and jobs.

However, Stephen Smellie, Secretary of UNISON's South Lanarkshire Branch said:

"Margaret Mitchell fails to note the hugely poitive impact which the living wage has on the families who will gain from its introduction. It is primarily low paid women who make up the workforce who have benefitted from the Living Wage. They will now be better able to buy a spare pair of shoes or a winter coat for their kids.

"Studies have shown that introducing the Living Wage leads to a better motivated staff and an improvement in service delivery. This is why it is supported by, amongst many others, Tory Boris Johnson in London. Therefore Margaret Mitchell is wrong to raise the spectre of cuts in services. The Council have planned for and budgeted for the Living Wage. The trade unions are engaged fully with them in seeking to protect services, despite the cuts which flow from the economic policies of the Tory led Coalition government.

"She also fails to note the impact that the Living Wage has as a boost for the local economy. Any increase in pay to low paid women is spent, mainly, in local shops. I would have thought she would have welcomed this boost to the local economy."

Stephen Smellie said:
"I am aware of workers in the community and voluntary sector as well as the private sector who do not earn the Living Wage and I would hope Margaret Mitchell would support UNISON’s campaign for the Living Wage to be extended to those sectors.

"The Living Wage is a good news story for everyone."

Note for editors:
The statement from Margaret Mitchell is copied below for your information.

02 MAR 2012
Forcing businesses to pay living wage would be counterproductive

In today's Local Government and Regeneration Committee debate, Scottish Conservatives urged caution on the introduction of a living wage. There are concerns that the higher wage could lead to a reduction in local services or job opportunities.
Scottish Conservative Local Government Spokesperson, Margaret Mitchell urged for the payment of the living wage to be voluntary.
Margaret Mitchell MSP said:
"All things being equal, the living wage is an admirable aspiration and one which we would want to achieve.
"In the region which I represent, South Lanarkshire Council spent £3.5 million in 2011/12 introducing the living wage. From April 2012 a further £2 million will be spent increasing the rate of pay to £7.20. In total this council will have spent a staggering £5.5 million on the living wage.
"If the costs of introduction and payment of the living wage are so high and this then is seen to result in a corresponding reduction or cut in local services and job losses, this could understandably lead to resentment.
"This is particularly true given that public sector workers' wages are higher than many in the private, voluntary or third sectors, because taxpayers' money has been used to make this a priority over service delivery.
"Furthermore, payment of the living wage must be voluntary. In the current economic climate the priority must be to maximise employment opportunities and any attempt to force businesses to pay the living wage would be counterproductive."

End of statement by Margaret Mitchell MSP Scottish Tory Local Government spokesperson

UNISON's better way for local government includes a Living Wage for all - find out more in our local government manifesto here:


No comments:

Post a Comment