In London, Camden and Islington councils have almost completed full Living Wage status after pledging to do so, despite massive cuts from central government. For both councils over 95% of contracts are paid at over the Living Wage but some large care contracts remain a hurdle, but both have signed UNISON's Ethical Care Charter to bring this in line very shortly (in our case by 2017), along with other reforms such as paying travel costs and ending short visits.
Camden has the legacy Caterlink contract for school dinner staff, negotiated on low wages by the Tories and Lib Dems when they ran Camden council and actively resisted any move towards the London Living Wage. Camden has also gone a step further on low pay last year and become the first council to by introduce a minimum earnings guarantee - meaning by 2018 every one of the council’s 4,300 staff will be paid at least £20,000 a year.
Both councils have campaigned for local employers, specifically including Arsenal Football Club, to embrace the Living Wage too and join us in setting out a plan to raise wages. Much like the recent criticism of the Church of England, here in Camden the Tories and the Camden New Journal paper have doubled up locally to say organisations which aren't precisely 100% Living Wage compliant shouldn't ask private sector firms to change their ways - but these are the views of people who are more interested in shouting 'hypocrite' or pursuing political advantage than supporting progress in any meaningful way.
The Living Wage Foundation approach doesn't hide that it is gradualist or that dealing with this issue is more complex than it looks. When you pledge to become a Living Wage Employer it commits organisation to a funded plan to address London Living Wage in a given period of time. This enables organisations to examine their procurement processes and deal with long-term contracts and ensure that when they are re-tendered they meet the new standard. This is the concept of phased implementation which was set out when we raised the flag at the Town Hall in 2012 and explained our approach.
So we say to the haters: join the campaign and support more Living Wage employers in London - including Premiership clubs, who can certainly afford it.
Here's what the Living Wage Foundation says:
Next year Camden will make good the remaining contract for school dinner staff - the people who matter most here - what we won't do is further subsidise the profits of big firms by paying out more taxpayer money on top the subsidy we already give low wage employers through the benefits system, as we have always made clear."Camden was one of the first councils to make the commitment to roll out the Living Wage. And we believe there is an important role for local government in championing the Living Wage to other employers. The Living Wage Foundation recognises that full compliance can take some time as contracts come up for renewal. There may in fact be a risk of legal challenge if contract terms are materially changed before the point of re-tender."