UNISON Cymru/Wales today congratulated Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council for its decision to pay hundreds of the authority’s lowest-paid staff a minimum of £8.39 per hour.
That is more than one pound an hour higher than the UK chancellor’s new national living wage of £7.20. The Labour council’s increase will be backdated to 1 April this year.
The council has also bettered the independent Living Wage Foundation’s recommendation of £8.25 (outside London) as the minimum income needed to survive, based upon a basket of household goods and services.
Earlier this month, UNISON criticised chancellor George Osborne for deliberately muddying what is a ‘living wage’ with his introduction of the new national living wage of £7.20.
This is not based on living costs but a percentage of average earnings.
Mr Osborne also announced that young workers under the age of 25 will not benefit from his new uplift in earnings.
Working with UNISON, the Labour Welsh government and further education employers have taken much more positive action and ensured that Welsh hospitals and colleges do not pay less than £8.25 per hour for anyone over 18 years old.
Caerphilly County Borough Council was the first accredited living wage authority in Wales and a number of other councils pay the living wage to directly-employed staff, even though they have yet to ensure that their contractors do the same.
UNISON is lobbying other councils to follow as soon as possible.
Merthyr branch secretary Mike Crimmings said: “This is wonderful news for hundreds of employees in Merthyr Tydfil and it is great to see the Labour administration valuing their staff.”
UNISON Cymru/Wales will continue to campaign for a minimum of the Living Wage Foundation figure for all workers, regardless of age.