New supercouncil to be asked to bring in Living Wage for staff

Paul Fleming.
Paul Fleming.

Derry and Strabane’s new supercouncil is set to be called upon to back a motion calling on them to adopt the Living Wage for the local authority’s employees.

Sinn Féin Derry City Councillor Paul Fleming has now tabled a motion to this effect before the new Derry-Strabane supercouncil .

It is understood the motion will be debated at a meeting of the council next Thursday.

Mr Fleming said: “People deserve to be paid a decent wage and introducing the living wage will ensure that the lowest-paid workers will enjoy a better quality of life.

“The minimum wage is £6.31 for people aged over 21 years-old and while it is very important that it is in place, it is a very basic salary which many people find hard to live on. We need to ensure that people get proper rewards for their work and the living wage of £7.65 would help lift people out of the working poor bracket.”

Mr Fleming’s comments come just weeks after the Journal revealed that some workers at the council are earning the minimum wage or just above it.

These workers, whom union leaders said did an essential job for Derry, have been involved recently in intensive pay negotiations with Derry City Council management.

A payscale seen by the Derry Journal illustrates that some council litter pickers, leisure attendants and cleaners are on salaries of £12,266.

The figure is significantly below the allowances of newly elected councillors on the supercouncil, up from £9,835 to £14,200 per year.

Belfast City Council have recently put in place an agreement that all workers take home a ‘living wage’ as opposed to minimum wage, in order to ensure they were not being forced into poverty.

At the public sector strike rally in Guildhall Square last week, a succession of union representatives called for the Living Wage to be adopted as a bare minimum for staff.

Colr. Fleming said there would be a wider benefit.

“Not only would a living wage provide a better quality of life for low-paid workers, it would also boost the local economy,” Colr. Fleming said. “Paying workers a living wage would mean workers would have more money to spend in local businesses.”

He added: “A number of major international companies have already introduced the Living Wage for employees which sends a very clear message to the scaremongering from some in the business community who claim it is unaffordable. Providing workers with a living wage would also help prevent the emergence of a two-tier economy which punishes those on benefits and low pay.”