Living wage: supporting branches to win and maintain Living Wage status

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2017 Health Care Service Group Conference
16 December 2016

Conference notes the success of branches who have previously won a pay rise for their lowest paid staff through Living Wage campaigns. Their successes should be celebrated and used to inspire other branch-led campaigns across the country.

However, whilst increases to the Living Wage are to be welcomed, conference notes that some employers have fallen short of making an ongoing commitment to maintaining Living Wage compliance year on year. In these cases branches are faced with the challenge of having to mount a fresh campaign each time the Living Wage is uprated.

Conference stands with all branches campaigning for the Living Wage – whether for the first time, or fighting for the annual uplift.

Although it is clear that Agenda for Change poses no barrier to organisations becoming Living Wage Foundation employers, the Health Group needs to do more work to ensure stewards and activists have all the tools at their disposal to win the argument and run successful campaigns that embed the Living Wage in perpetuity.

Conference also notes that it may not always be the case that Living Wage Foundation rates are higher than the lowest rate of Agenda for Change. Conference notes that, as of November 2016, some Agenda for Change HCAS rates are still higher than the London Living Wage. If employers in those areas were to “offer” the living wage this would be a reduction in pay for lower-earning staff. We must be vigilant and ensure that employers cannot hide breaches of Agenda for Change behind a “Living Wage Employer” badge.

Additionally, Conference welcomes the continued commitment of the Welsh and Scottish Governments to the Living Wage in the NHS in those countries.

Conference calls on the Service Group Executive to:

1)Continue to develop guidance and resources for branches that want to campaign for Living Wage.

2)Support branches to win “rolling” Living Wage commitments, in which employers pledge to pay the Living Wage on an ongoing basis, rather than simply matching the amount in any one year.

3)Provide clear guidance on the relationship between Agenda for Change and the Living Wage, and support branches to resist employer tricks where the Living Wage would actually be a reduction in Agenda for Change conditions.

4)Provide support to branches and activists in understanding the difference between the Living Wage Foundation wage, and the Government’s re-labelled minimum wage.