A Living Wage for Birmingham
Earlier this week, the Labour Party issued a commitment to making Birmingham a Living Wage City. I believe this is a vital step forward in the battle to secure fair wages for local people and to making our city a fairer and more just place in which to live and work.
This is the statement in full:
Labour leaders in Birmingham have pledged that a Labour-run Birmingham City Council will be a “Living Wage” employer. The policy has already been endorsed by Labour Leader Ed Miliband, and Bishop Eric Brown of the New Testament Church of God and Chair of Citizens UK.
Labour will ensure that no council employee will earn less than £7.20 per hour. This will improve the lives of 2743 council workers who currently earn between £6.39 and £7.15 per hour. It will cost the City £1.2 million a year.
Birmingham will join a growing list of employers committed to paying the Living Wage including Barclays Bank, HSBC, PWC, KPMG, two London boroughs and Glasgow City Council.
Birmingham is the largest local authority in Europe, with 45,800 employees. With a Labour Council committed to paying the Living Wage this will be a significant step forward in the growing trend for all employers to be committed to the Living Wage.
Labour Leader Ed Miliband welcomed the move, saying, “It is great news that Labour in Birmingham are committed to becoming a living wage employer and raising the living standards of their lowest paid staff. This commitment to people in Birmingham is one of many examples of how Labour can deliver fairness in tough times.”
Bishop Brown said, “As Chair of Trustees of CITIZENS UK we warmly welcome the growing number of public and private sector employers who are accepting their responsibility for their lowest paid workers by paying a Living Wage. The Living Wage is a family wage. It is good for communities and it is good for civil society.”
The initiative will enable a Labour council in this city of high unemployment to create jobs and apprenticeships, including for the disabled, as well as driving the introduction of a Living Wage throughout Birmingham.
Labour will review all contractors and commissioned service providers, to ensure that the carers who look after friends and family when they are at their most vulnerable, and all those who serve the city, are paid a Living Wage.
The pledge was made by Sir Albert Bore, the Leader of the Labour Group on Birmingham City Council, who was accompanied by Jack Dromey representing Birmingham’s Labour MPs.
Sir Albert Bore, Leader of the Labour Group on Birmingham City Council, said:
“We believe that people working in Birmingham deserve more than the poverty level of the present minimum wage. These are often people who work in difficult circumstances providing care for others.
We need a motivated and committed workforce open to change. All the evidence suggests that this simple cost effective change will improve morale, job quality and service delivery, with very little increase in costs.
Only Labour will fight for fairness and dignity for all. A Living Wage in Birmingham is good for business, good for the individual, good for society and good for the taxpayer. That is Labour’s vision. We will use our public procurement power – Be Birmingham, Buy Birmingham, Build Birmingham – to rebuild our local economy, and at the heart of our approach, a Fair Birmingham.”
Jack Dromey, Labour’s Shadow Housing and Local Government Minister and MP for Birmingham Erdington, said:
“A Labour Council will lead the fight against working poverty that blights our society and our economy. To offer those who work hard and yet struggle to provide for their families dignity in work.
“From Glasgow to London, people are starting to realise the simple truth that if you pay people better you boost productivity. By paying people a Living Wage we will take the pressure off the Exchequer through benefits and tax credits, putting more money in people’s pockets to spend in the local economy.
“As the heart of England, we will show the country that Birmingham is more than the buildings we have, that Birmingham is a community, a modern manufacturing hub, a strong and vibrant city working together to tackle the worst housing crisis in a generation, soaring youth unemployment, and, crucially, a city committed to no Birmingham Citizen earning less than a Living Wage of £7.20 an hour.”