Water industry a ‘money-making machine’ that can well afford the living wage

Delegates at UNISON’s water, environment and transport conference in Glasgow today agreed to further their efforts to urge employers to adopt the living wage.

South East Water recently became the first employer in the service group to introduce the living wage for its workers.

Yet the majority of employers are failing to step up – as thousands of the union’s members in the sector are not even earning the minimum wage, the conference heard.

“The living wage has been receiving political support, but only limited endorsement by employers,” said Rachel Wright of the United Utilities branch.

Andrew Goring of the service group executive added that many of those suffering in WET were performing vital roles for the public.

“If the living wage was paid it would bring thousands of hard-working families out of poverty,” he said.

The conference’s guest speaker, Peter Kenway of the New Policy Institute, spoke specifically of the water industry as “a money-making machine”, whose low employment costs left bosses with “enormous scope” to pay more.

“I know you want to campaign for the living wage, and there’s absolutely no doubt that the industry can afford it,” he said.

Conference called upon the WET executive to produce communication materials for branches to use in pay claims and other negotiations, to fight for “this basic standard of living”.