Council commits to ‘Living Wage’

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Local councillors have welcomed the news that Aberdeenshire’s administration have embraced the Living Wage.

The news means that the council’s lowest paid employees can expect to earn at least £7.45 an hour. At the meeting of Policy & Resources Committee on November 15, a recommendation was put forward by council leader Jim Gifford to make a commitment in principle to introduce the Living Wage supplement. The group agreed to explore the options surrounding the supplement, which would see the lowest paid workers raised to a wage of £7.45 an hour.

Cllr Gifford said: “We recognise that a large proportion of our workforce are in low-paid jobs due to the nature of the services that the council offers. We value our workforce and need to take action to support our lowest paid staff through difficult financial times. I hope that this commitment by the council will make a significant difference to the lives of our lowest paid staff and their families.”

The news was universally welcomed by Ellon councillors.

Cllr Isobel Davidson told the Times: “I am very pleased that the Policy and Resources Committee agreed to the principle of everybody employed by Aberdeenshire Council receiving at least the living wage. This is a good step forward to allow people to chose to work rather than stay on benefits and feel valued in their work. Unfortunately, it cannot be implemented immediately as there are issues to address first, but we will work towards implementing it as soon as we can.”

Cllr Rob Merson added: “I am very much in favour of Aberdeenshire Council subscribing to the ‘Living Wage’ supplement. The North east is generally one of the most affluent areas of the UK, but it is in many respects a polarised society, and not everyone has benefited from the high salaries enjoyed by the Oil & Gas industry.

“There is no shortage of evidence that Aberdeenshire Council is having difficulty securing staff in some lower-paid positions, and the supplement might also go some way to providing an employment incentive which could help to address these shortfalls.”

Gillian Owen welcomed the move saying; “This is a clear sign from the Alliance led council. It is well known that a large amount of our workforce are in low paid jobs by mere fact of the work they undertake, and it is right that we look at the Living Wage and consider all aspects. I look forward to seeing the paper that will be presented.”

Cllr Richard Thomson added: “This is a welcome development and one which the SNP called for in its Council manifesto in May. There are many council workers who do vital work for all of us each day for relatively low levels of pay. At a time of rising prices, a living wage will make a big difference for many. Aberdeenshire is one of the North-East’s biggest employers. By introducing a living wage for the lowest paid, hopefully we can encourage other employers, big or small, to follow suit.”