Since January 2014 direct employees of Leicester City Council have earned the living wage, which is presently £7.85 an hour. Indirect employees of city’s Labour Council however are not included in this deal, and among these workers are thousands of largely women care workers.
During Council meetings last year, Deputy Mayor Rory Palmer made it clear that Labour could not make sure that they paid subcontracted care workers a fair wage. He believed that signing up to Unison’s Ethical Care Charter would be simply unaffordable.
Mr Palmer clearly understands the problems facing exploited workers in Leicester, and he has acknowledged that the many individuals earning less than the Living Wage “face ever growing insecurity as they may be part-time, or agency workers, or on zero hours contracts.” (February 23, Leicester Mercury)
But if he really “think[s] the Living Wage is a force for good in industry, improving productivity and morale,” then the question remains: what is our Labour Council going to do to make sure they have enough money to pay all their subcontractors fairly?
A start might be for our Labour Council to sign up to the Ethical Care Charter. Then they Council might consider launching a high-profile public campaign to garner support for the idea that our city should be given enough money from central Government to maintain and expand their ability to provide vital public services, and then pay the people who provide these vital services the Living Wage.
At the same time the Council could actively enforce the national minimum wage laws -that are so regularly flouted in our city — and work towards making sure that all workers in Leicester are paid a fair days pay for a fair days work. Now that doesn’t seem like too much to ask does it?