Sunderland union members wage war on low pay

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THE campaign to persuade employers to pay a Living Wage comes to Wearside this week.

Unions are calling on the public and private sectors to pay a Living Wage – calculated as the minimum a family of four with one adult working needs to earn.

The Living Wage Foundation calculates that as £7.20 an hour outside London, compared to the National Minimum Wage’s £6.19.

Sunderland City Council bosses have already agreed to audit their staff to see how many earn less than the Living Wage figure, and Unison is holding an event in the council chamber at the Civic Centre at 6pm on Wednesday.

“We will be showing a film the local Unison branch has produced about the reasons for being in a trade union, aimed at young people who are particularly affected by the Living Wage campaign” said spokeswoman Helen Coomer.

“Paying a Living Wage reduces absenteeism and increases productivity. It is good for the economy too, with people spending their money locally.”

Unison held its Annual Regional Conference on Friday, launching a week of campaigning with the slogan “I want to live not just exist”.

Regional convenor Clare Williams said: “Our campaign is aimed at highlighting the impact low pay has on both individuals and on the regional economy.

KPMG estimates 20 per cent of workers are earning less than the Living Wage. This forces people into poverty.

“In this region we are regularly seeing food banks being opened in towns, and many of our members are struggling financially.

“Research has shown a family with two children, working a 40-hour week, would have to earn £7.20 an hour.

“Those on the National Minimum Wage would have to work 48 hours a week to support their families.

“In this region one in three children now live in poverty. Earning a Living Wage will take families out of poverty, debt, stress and illness and improve family life

“The conference was the launch for a week of local activities we are organising to highlight the impact of low pay, the aims of the campaign for a living wage and why this is a trade union issue.”

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