Friday, 9 November 2012

Stuart Douglas: "l have experienced the living wage"

Speech by UNISON member Stuart Douglas at Living Wage event in Scottish Parliament, Thursday 8 November 2012 

Stuart Douglas speaks at Scottish Parliament 8 Thu Nov 2012
From Living Wage event Scottish Parliament 8 Nov 2012

Stuart Douglas and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP at Scottish Parliament
From Living Wage event Scottish Parliament 8 Nov 2012

Thank you for opportunity to speak tonight - it's my first visit to the Scottish parliament.

I am from Clydebank currently working for the NHS at The Beardmore Hotel in Dalmuir. I am a UNISON member and steward in my workplace.

I benefit from a living wage because my union fought for a living wage in the NHS in Scotland. From 2005 till 2012 I worked on minimum wage, and it was only since May that brought me out of minimum wage employment.

So I have experienced the living wage from both sides.

I know what it like not going on holiday for 3 years, not being able to afford a car, having to spend 5 hours a week walking to work. Even though you work very hard, you don't earn enough to live just to exist, enough to get by but not to progress in life.

So you don't get to plan the next stage in your life.

And I am a single person but people that I worked alongside had children and often worried how difficult it was for them, because at an early age a child will learn that money comes before them.

The areas in and around my community like Clydebank, Drumchapel, Garscadden display shocking high levels of child poverty. In Drumchapel and Anniesland over 40% of children live in poverty.

That £30 or £40 pounds a week extra could make a real difference to the food you buy, time you have to spend with your kids and the experience they have at an early age.

As a young person living West Dunbartonshire I am upset and angry to hear that I live in the top UK unemployment black spot. Businesses are well aware they can pay the minimum wage for almost any job and that erodes wages for everyone. Unemployment is so high and wages are low, is doesn't inspire you, your not rewarded, not encouraged to work, it encourages worklessness.

Since I started to receive a living wage in May this year, it fundamentally alters the way you go about your job, because you feel valued, more loyal to your employer, carrying out your tasks maybe not more efficiently but to a higher standard. Accountable to the business because you feel a valued part of it rather than someone carrying out a mundane task, for as little as they can get away with paying you.

Companies don’t just gain loyal employees, a living wage is a social barometer that demonstrate an ability to act ethically.

The public sector should lead the way but other businesses should be required, expected to pay the living wage.

At the moment there are many people who may not work directly for the public sector but serve the public in their work. A patient in our hospital can be fed, treated and helped home by someone earning a living wage, but the home help that provides the aftercare, the chemist that provides medicine may be on poverty pay.

It divides society into a race to the bottom for everyone.

I'd like to thank the first minister, for my pay rise he announced this week, because the living wage increase will mean an extra £6.00 a week, that's £312 a year.

It’s amazing how much a few pence adds up.

I look forward to this parliament delivering a living wage nation for us all.


1 comment:

  1. Good Evening

    I've been watching the discussion about the increase in Benefits. Apparently the increase is much more than the increase in wages.

    A friend of mine, who has to claim Jobseekers Allowance, will have enough extra to buy a packet of crisps - I despair of this government and those people who think 'a few pence add up'.