A living wage and a living pension

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Conference
2013 National Delegate Conference
Date
26 February 2013
Decision

Conference believes that low pay is not just an issue for those underpaid, it also blights our local communities. Low paid workers often have to work long hours to support their families making it hard to spend what little disposable income they have on their children’s education, community activities and leisure or even in local shops. Similarly low income pensioners also have problems making ends meet but without the opportunity, in most cases, to gain additional income through work. As such low pay and pension income, hand in hand with Tory austerity, is suppressing economic recovery.

The Living Wage Foundation has provided substantial evidence that the introduction of a London Living Wage has had net benefits for employers in terms of staff loyalty and declining absenteeism.

Similarly, studies by organisations such as the Joseph Rowntree Trust show that low incomes have a negative effect on the health and social mobility of communities. Declining wage rates also often correlate with rising crime. A living wage of £7.45 an hour must therefore be an essential component of economically sustainable communities. But that cannot be the end of it we must ensure that every pensioner has a living pension enabling them to live with dignity and free from poverty in their twilight years.

In view of the above, UNISON calls for the TUC to campaign for a living wage and pension nationally and across all regions. In particular Conference believes the TUC must call for local councils and other large public sector institutions not only to implement the living wage but to act as living wage champions within their local economies, not least by promoting the living wage with private sector contractors currently providing public services.

Conference further agrees to campaign with the TUC and others across the labour movement to ensure that a living pension is afforded to all in receipt of the state pension.

UNISON also believes we need to campaign for a statutory living wage and pension which are overseen by a ‘Living Wage and Pension’ Commission, which should take over responsibility from the current Low Pay Commission but operate with an expanded role to oversee a statutory minimum living pension rate in addition to the statutory minimum living wage rate.