£7 minimum wage for Glasgow council staff

A crackdown on staff absenteeism will fund a scheme which will see more than 600 lower-paid council workers in Glasgow receive a rise in salary of up to £1,100 a year.

Steven Purcell, the leader of Labour-controlled Glasgow City Council, told the party’s Scottish conference yesterday that he is to set up a “Glasgow Living Wage” of £7 an hour – far above the current minimum wage of £5.73.

The move is expected to cost about £1.2million but Mr Purcell believes that the money will be recouped through disciplinary measures against staff who have poor attendance records at work.

The crackdown will see fewer overtime payments and could include dismissal for those who persist in taking time off work for no good reason.

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But the scheme is expected to receive a less than enthusiastic welcome from other Scottish councils, who will come under pressure from unions to implement similar payments and from many in the private sector where wages and salaries could be frozen, or even cut, this year.

Cities such as London and Oxford have already established similar “living wage” schemes, but Glasgow will be the first in Scotland. The council will be asking its contractors to pay their staff the same minimum rate.

Mr Purcell said it was unacceptable that almost one in five of Glasgow’s workers were paid less than £7 an hour. “The Glasgow Living Wage has the potential to make a huge difference to thousands of families across the city,” he said.

The council can only enforce the new minimum wage on those it employs but Mr Purcell hopes that other employers in the city will follow suit.

“We will work with employers in the public, private and voluntary sector to encourage them to pay low-paid workers a decent wage,” he said.

“Whilst there are clear social and economic benefits to Glasgow, the introduction of a living wage can also provide real benefits to employers in terms of staff morale, productivity, and quality.”

The annual Survey of Household Earnings 2008 calculated that there were 394,000 jobs in the Glasgow City Council area, of which 20 per cent were paid less than £7.14 an hour. In terms of part-time employees, 40 per cent are paid less than £6.64 an hour.

There are 681 staff working for Glasgow City Council who earn less than £7 an hour. A spokesman for the council denied that there would be pressure on other local authorities and small to medium sized businesses to follow suit.

“We are not asking other councils to do this and the last thing we want to see is small companies going to the wall. This is aimed at getting major employers in both the public and private sector to follow our lead or aspire to follow our lead.”

The initiative will mean that the salaries of the council’s lowest paid workers will increase from £12,200 a year to £13,340. April 1 will be the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the national minimum wage.

(source: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/scotland/article5871093.ece)

Richard Reid is the founder of Pinnacle Proactive, Specialising in the Employee Assistance ProgramStress ManagementStaff Retention & Absenteeism. Take a Proactive Approach to Growing Your Organisation & its People. For more info visit http://www.pinnacleproactive.com

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