Living wage for council employees

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Union leaders have welcomed the news that more than 500 South Ayrshire Council employees will see an addition to their pay packets next month as the living wage is introduced.

The living wage – the lowest amount anyone should earn to be able to cover their basic costs – will see an additional payment made to 541 employees, bringing their hourly rate up to £7.20 per hour.

This represents £1.12 more than the main minimum wage rate for workers aged 21 years and over.

The pay supplement will boost annual salaries for affected employees by up to almost £2000 – depending on current pay and grading level and hours worked.

But South Ayrshire will join what is still a minority group of Scottish councils - currently only 12 out of 32 - who pay the living wage of £7.20 either as an inclusive rate or via a supplement to a lower wage.

GMB Scotland’s Paul Arkison said prior to the living wage being introduced, GMB had identified a significant number South Ayrshire Council employees being paid a little above minimum wage. He said he welcomed the council’s decision to adopt the living wage and is hopeful that it will have a positive effect on the local economy.

“Council workers are tied to a pay freeze, and the introduction of a living wage is the only way in which low paid workers will get a salary rise,” he said.

“Given the increasing cost of day to day living this will go some way towards bringing relief to low paid workers.”

Jim Winter, Regional and Industrial Organiser with Unite the Union, added: “Unite the Union are delighted that South Ayrshire Council is moving forward with the living wage. This is a progressive step and will help many of our members who are struggling to cope with low pay and the ever increasing financial demands of daily living.

“With local authority employees being asked to do more at work this move by the council will help those who are the lowest paid but also tasked with delivering our public services to such a high standard.”

Campbell Peden from UNISON concluded: “UNISON South Ayrshire welcomes South Ayrshire Council’s decision to implement the living wage. The financial gain many of our low paid members will now receive is a positive move forward which will make a huge difference to our members and their families.”

Councillor Robin Reid, South Ayrshire Council’s Portfolio Holder for Resources and Performance, said the living wage is good news for the council’s lowest-paid staff and their families and will improve the lives of many.