Salford City Mayor welcomes vote for Living Wage

Salford City Mayor Ian Stewart today welcomed the 2 to 1 vote by union members in favour of a new council pay structure.

It means more than 1200 of the council’s lowest paid workers, 91 per cent of whom are women, will get an immediate pay boost from April 1st, with the introduction of a full Living Wage of £7.45 an hour.

Salford is the first council in Greater Manchester to introduce the full Living Wage, which independently sets the level below which no one should be paid.

Amongst the staff who will benefit from the full Living Wage are 347 cleaners and 385 welfare assistants, as well as more than 100 general kitchen assistants and 65 classroom teaching assistants.

With Salford’s full Living Wage of £7.45 an hour, a catering assistant working full-time will see their basic pay rise by £1,385 a year.

The new pay and grading structure meets the Equality Act test and will mean no change or an actual pay rise for 90.22 per cent of the 6,000 council staff affected.

More than 2,400 staff will see their pay rise from April 1st this year, by between £450 and £1700, with an average annual increase of £755.

Unfortunately, as in every other Local Authority in England where an Equal Pay and Grading exercise has been carried out, a minority of staff – 629 (9.7 per cent) – will see a reduction. They will have the blow cushioned by the council for a full year and will face no change in their salaries until April 2014.

£500,000 which has been saved from the salaries of the highest paid staff, including those who have agreed to a new three-year pay freeze, will now be used to make sure none of the 9.7 per cent lose more than 5%.

Work will continue over the next 12 months to mitigate the impact on these staff.

All council staff earning below £21,000 a year will see no loss of pay.

Mayor Stewart said today: “This result is a huge victory for common sense, fairness and the lowest paid workers in Salford Council.

“We will now have a pay structure which does not discriminate between staff who are doing exactly the same job, for vastly different rates of pay.

“Under the old system, the difference in pay between two staff both doing the same job could have been £4,000. That was clearly both extremely unfair – and potentially in breach of the Equality Act.

“That unfairness is now over. At the same time we have been able to give a real helping hand to the lowest paid, who are struggling under the Government’s failed austerity policies as we totter on the brink of a triple dip recession.

“Staff have told me directly how much of a positive difference the Living Wage will make to their standards of living, which are being hit all the time. I am extremely proud that we have been the first in Greater Manchester to take positive action against poverty pay by introducing a full Living Wage.”

Mayor Stewart added: “This overwhelming result in favour of the new structure is a slap in the face for the handful of extremists who tried to derail this agreement and misrepresent what we were trying to do for their own extreme political ends.

“It shows how out of touch they are with the majority of union members and our 6,000 staff who recognised this was the best deal available in the circumstances.

“We are mindful that there are genuine concerns that a minority of staff will lose out – I am very sorry for that. We are doing everything we can to cushion that blow.

“This result now sets a constructive relationship with our recognised trade unions and allows us to set improved employment standards through joint discussion and collective agreement.

“This will enable the Council to achieve its aim of becoming a top quality employer, able to encourage improved employment standards for workers throughout the City.”