Trades Unions Take Living Wage Campaign to Neston
|Author: Ray McHale||Published: 19th September 2017 12:04|
Ray McHale, Secretary of the West Cheshire Trades Union Council, talks about their campaign for schools in the Neston area to pay the Local Living Wage.
With not a single school in the Neston area paying the Local Living Wage (minimum) of £8.45 per hour, trades unionists from West Cheshire Trades Union Council (TUC) decided the opening of the new building at Neston High School would be the ideal opportunity to raise their campaign.
So, as the public arrived to look around the new building the point was made with placards and leaflets, high-lighting the High School's failure to implement the Living Wage for its staff.
Demonstrators at the recent Neston High School open day.
Although the figure is creeping up, only around 50 schools in the Borough have adopted the Local Living Wage, as recommended by Cheshire West and Chester Council in February 2016 - that is about 30% of schools. Governors at the other schools have refused to act on this recommendation. Only four secondary schools have adopted the Living Wage. This leaves around 600 school staff not receiving the Living Wage, affecting caretakers, welfare assistants, midday assistants, clerical staff and technicians, as well as cleaning and catering staff.
Many schools use contractors to undertake cleaning and catering - the main one being Edsential, a Community Interest Company jointly owned by CWAC Council and Wirral Borough Council, both of which pay their own staff the Local Living Wage.
Probably less than 10 schools out of 170 across the Borough have agreed to also pay the Local Living Wage to these contract staff - as an option in their contract. That leaves another 600 staff based in schools earning below the Living Wage. Indeed, not only have CWAC not required their own company to pay the Living Wage - at a time when they urge private companies to sign up to the CWAC Living Wage Accreditation Scheme - but they have allowed the pay of many Edsential staff to be cut to below the minimum pay rate for all council workers.
Unfairly, Wirral staff are paid more for doing the same job because that Council introduced the Living wage before these staff were outsourced. But those staff too have fallen back, and are now paid well below the Living Wage.
The new Labour Council had a manifesto commitment to implement and spread the Living Wage - yet most of their staff who work in schools or who work for their company Edsential are still not receiving this after more than 2 years. It is no good the Council pressing other employers to implement the Living Wage if they are not doing it with their own staff. They need to set a clear example if wages are to be driven up across the Borough, and the local economy to be boosted.
The TUC's West Cheshire Living Wage Campaign is taking its message to secondary schools across the Borough as they hold open evenings for next year's new intake of people.
Campaigners also took their message to Ellesmere Port.