Living Wage agreement criticised

Dumfries and Galloway Council have been criticised of turning their backs on the lower paid this week after agreeing to continue paying a Living Wage as a supplement to its hourly pay rates.

An additional 518 employees will now become eligible for the Scottish Local Government Living Wage minimum rate of £7.50 an hour, making a total of 1,303 employees.

However, the Tory SNP coalition have been accused by Labour politicians of “betraying the region’s low paid” with the agreement failing to cover overtime wages.

A move by the Labour Group to receive a report on the cost of paying the Living Wage for overtime was rejected by Tory SNP and Independent councillors.

And Labour Group Leader Ronnie Nicholson said, “It is a real betrayal of the low paid that Dumfries and Galloway Council has chosen to do the bare minimum to meet that agreement and is refusing to pay the Living Wage when it comes to overtime. It is simply indefensible to argue that on the one hand a worker should be paid a Living Wage of £7.50 per hour normally but if they have to do any overtime the basic rate that will be based could be as low as £6.23 per hour. It just shows that the Tories and SNP aren’t really committed to a Living Wage and they have to be dragged kicking and screaming into backing it.”

For all these employees, the Living Wage rate will become a contractual entitlement as the SJC (Scottish Joint Council) national agreement will be incorporated into their contract of employment.

Councillor Ivor Hyslop, chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee, said: “I’m pleased that our Council is able to pay the Living Wage, helping our lowest paid workers.”

When Dumfries and Galloway Council agreed to introduce the Living Wage at £7.16 an hour in July 2011, only five councils in Scotland had already done so.

From April this year all local councils in Scotland will be obliged to pay a minimum of a Living Wage of £7.50 per hour.

Trade Unions backed the call for negotiations on paying the Living Wage for overtime with the report to the Commitee today stating “Unite (the Union) would also like to participate in negotiations with Dumfries and Galloway Council to include overtime being reflective of the living wage.”