THERE was a victory for the lowest paid workers in Dumfries and Galloway Council last Friday as the Living Wage was passed at a meeting of full council.
But the Conservative, Lib Dem and Indepedent parties claim the move will result in job losses and have a detrimental impact on council trading standards.
The Dumfries and Galloway Labour Group welcomed the agreement on introducing a living wage of £7.15 per hour as starting point towards eradicating poverty pay in the region, and blasted Tory councillors for championing the ‘poverty pay’, by opposing the move.
Leader of the Dumfries and Galloway Labour Group, Ronnie Nicholson said: “Dumfries and Galloway has a record that we should be ashamed off, as the low pay capital of Scotland. Implementing a living wage in the lowest paying local authority shows definite progress and a result for those who work hard but received the lowest pay.
“Research clearly confirms that £7.15 per hour is the level of pay needed to keep a family above the poverty line, and the fact Tory councillors voted against this shows they don’t believe in a decent standard of living for low paid workers.
“What is so hypocritical about the Tories is the fact that they were happy to vote through a £100,000 post for a new senior official – and also refused to cut their own salaries of senior councillors, but then they don’t have the decency to support a living wage for those earning less than £7 per hour.”
The move was opposed by Conservative, Lib Dem and Independent Councillors. A motion not to implement the living wage was proposed by Castle Douglas and Glenkens Councillor, Peter Duncan.
Speaking after the decision, Peter Duncan said: “It beggars belief that Labour and the SNP would vote to put jobs at risk. We were told that the Council’s trading arm would lose business if the wage rates of over 800 people were increased to £7.20, and people would lose their jobs as a result. It’s remarkable that Labour and SNP councillors now seem to relish their role as “Redundancy Champions”.
“This move will cost the Council significantly, over £300,000, when our budgets are stretched like never before. It will result in job losses, and to cap it all, hardly any of our employees will be any better off at all. Almost all low paid workers are entitled to tax credits, therefore any additional earnings will result in less tax credits being paid. Dumfries and Galloway Council taxpayers will lose out, whilst the UK Treasury will gain
“Every Councillor wants to increase living standards across the region, but this move will cost us dear and cost many local families their breadwinner’s income. Labour and the SNP should hold their heads in shame for blatantly turning a blind eye to their plight.”