Town council workers to receive real living wage

Weston Town Council agreed to pay its staff a real living wage.

Weston Town Council agreed to pay its staff a real living wage. - Credit: PA

Weston Town Council has agreed to pay its staff, as a minimum, the real living wage.

The motion was proposed by Uphill ward councillor Helen Thornton for the town council to join the Living Wage Foundation and agreed to pay staff £9.30 per hour as a minimum for anyone aged over 18.

It is estimated in an average year this will cost around £3,400.

The town council live streamed its first full town council meeting on July 20.

Cllr Thornton explained the council ‘needs to set an example that Weston values its low paid workers, especially at a time when many put their lives on the line during the pandemic’.

She said: “We are sending out a signal for all companies to pay a wage their employees can live on.

“For 10 weeks we all stood on our doorsteps at 8pm every Thursday to clap for our carers and key workers.

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“These are the people who have been on the frontline of dealing with the human impact of coronavirus, yet these same staff are often among some of our lowest paid and, too often, can face ‘in-work poverty’. Clapping our carers and key workers does not pay their bills.

“These are the people who have been risking their lives by going to work to keep our society going, and allow the rest of us to stay at home and stay safe.”

Cllr Roger Bailey labelled the motion as ‘gesture politics’ while councillor Ian Porter called it ‘totally inappropriate’.

Cllr Porter said: “At the moment there are a lot of people who are furloughed, unemployed or are going to be unemployed going forward and I think it’s totally inappropriate that we should be looking at increasing wages in this current situation.”

The motion was passed by councillors by 16 votes to eight. Officers will implement the plan in the coming months.

Cllr Thornton added: “The coronavirus crisis has exposed the low wages of many of our key workers such as care workers, shop and supermarket workers, and delivery drivers.

“At this difficult time in our country’s history, we have an opportunity and an obligation as a town council to set an example, and send out a signal to the people of Weston that fairness demands we pay workers a wage that they can actually live on.”