Living Wage approval

The Council is to adopt a Living Wage policy. (Photo: Nick Ansell/PA Wire)
The Council is to adopt a Living Wage policy. (Photo: Nick Ansell/PA Wire)

Derry City & Strabane District Council has agreed to press ahead with ensuring all staff earn are earning at least the minimum Living Wage of £7.85 per hour.

This could rise further as councillors have ordered a report on the implications of increasing the minimum wage for workers to £8.25 per hour within six months.

When it is introduced, Derry & Strabane Council will be only the second council in the north to adopt the living wage, after Belfast City Council announced it was introducing it back in 2014.

A report on the matter was brought before the Council’s Governance and Strategic Planning Committee on Tuesday, recommending that council consider implementing the Living Wage Foundation rate of £7.85 per hour and backdate the pay of those affected to April 2015.

The report states that The Living Wage Foundation rate has increased to £8.25 per hour in November 2015, and that the group recommends that this is implemented within six months.

“It is recommended that management review the cost implications associated with implementing this and a further report brought back to council for consideration,” the report states.

Council officials will now continue to consult with the Trade Unions in relation to the implementation of a Living Wage.

In July 2014, Derry & Strabane Council, sitting in its shadow form, agreed that proposals would be brought forward on how the Living Wage could be implemented for its workforce effective from April 1, 2015.

The Living Wage sits above the new National Minimum Wage set by the Chancellor in his recent budget as £7.20 per hour for employees aged 25 and above from April 1, 2016 and rising to £9 per hour by 2020.

There are currently 35 council employees and 17 Agency staff who are paid less than £7.20 per hour, and 39 employees and 21 Agency Staff who are paid less than the Living Wage Foundation rate of £7.85 per hour.
Proposing the committee accept the recommendations, Sinn Fein Councillor Brian McMahon welcomed the report and said it was worth highlighting that the local council was one of those who have been proactive in bringing this matter to the table.

Seconding the adoption of the recommendations, SDLP Councillor Martin Reilly’s requested to know on whether any council staff were on zero hour contracts.

A Council officer said they would bring back a report on this, adding that council had a lot of casual employees.

Independent Councillor Darren O’Reilly welcomed the Living Wage move and said: “It is great to see the council ahead of the posse.”