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Conservatives call for ‘Living Wage’ at Sunderland city Council

Councillors John Wiper, Lee Martin, Peter Wood, George Howe and Bob Francis, who are campaigning for the council to introduce the living wage for its lowest paid staff.

Councillors John Wiper, Lee Martin, Peter Wood, George Howe and Bob Francis, who are campaigning for the council to introduce the living wage for its lowest paid staff.

CALLS for Sunderland City Council to narrow the gap between the lowest and highest paid employees are continuing.

The full council unanimously agreed to look into applying the ‘Living Wage’ almost two years ago but hundreds of low-paid workers are still missing out.

Now the city’s Conservative group have formally tabled a motion for the council to commit paying the current Living Wage – calculated at £7.65 per hour.

Opposition leader Lee Martin said: “Implementing the Living Wage should become part of the council’s ongoing restructuring of the workforce.

“Everyone knows that the council has been reducing its workforce but that is not a reason for not paying the Living Wage.”

The Living Wage is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK and employers choose to pay it on a voluntary basis.

At the moment no North East council is Living Wage accredited However, Northumbria Police has recently adopted the scheme.

The gap between the lowest and the highest paid Sunderland council employee is £220,516 – 19 times the wage of the lowest paid employee.

The council’s chief executive Dave Smith took home £232,951.07 before tax in 2013, while a cleaner earns £12,435 per year for a 37-hour week.

St Peter’s Tory councillor and care home nurse Shirley Leadbitter said: “More than eight out of 10 low-paid workers are women.

“Sunderland council has a woeful record when it comes to equal pay, and paying the Living Wage would be a huge step forward.”

The Conservative motion, which will be heard at next month’s meeting of the full council, reads: “This council aspires to become a Living Wage employer and instructs the chief executive to bring forward proposals to achieve this aspiration.”

A council spokesman confirmed its response will be given at the meeting.

 

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