Roadmap points the way to Living Wage for lowest paid workers

Published: Tuesday, July 25, 2023

  • Roadmap spells out how lowest paid contractor staff will receive better pay
  • Part of London’s biggest Cost of Living response
  • Plan backed by workers and trade unions

Share this

The council has unveiled concrete proposals to make sure some of the lowest paid frontline workers in the borough receive bigger pay packets.

A roadmap has been drawn up laying out details of how we will ensure the lowest paid workers delivering council contracts will receive enhanced levels of pay. This includes contractor staff that keep the borough’s streets, housing estates and parks clean as well as those serving children food in local schools.

Councillors have agreed the landmark decision that all employees working on town hall contracts should be paid the Real Living Wage.

This means that all new contracts signed with external companies must pay their staff this higher level of pay. And for workers employed on six contracts that are some years away from being renewed, the roadmap ensures that by April 2026, all their employees working in Wandsworth will receive this enhanced level of pay.

Securing these higher pay rates for frontline staff both directly employed by the council as well as those working on contracts was a key manifesto pledge from the council’s ruling group.

Actions already taken have led to Wandsworth being accredited as a Living Wage Employer by the Living Wage Foundation. It confirms that Wandsworth is paying its staff the Real Living Wage (RLW) - the only UK wage rate voluntarily paid by organisations and businesses that believe their staff deserve a fair day's pay for a fair day's work.

This sees workers in London aged over 18 currently paid £11.95 an hour compared to the Government’s National Living Wage of £10.42 - which only applies to employees aged 23 and above.

One of the first steps supporting low-paid workers ahead of the roadmap being agreed was the award of a council cash boost to frontline workers who do some of the toughest jobs in Wandsworth but are not yet paid the Real Living Wage.

It is just one way the council is supporting hard-pressed residents and others through the nation’s economic downturn. Wandsworth’s far-reaching package of help has just been doubled and is the biggest and most comprehensive scheme of its kind in the capital.

Simon Hogg, Leader of Wandsworth Council said: “We are creating a fairer, more compassionate and sustainable council which supports and protects our most vulnerable residents, strengthens local communities and improves the lives of local people, all for the same low council tax.

“Our policy is to make sure that everyone working for the council is able to earn a wage that actually meets the cost of living, not what the Government has set out as a minimum.

“We’ve committed to funding higher levels of pay on all new council contracts, but for existing contracts where wages are not yet at that level, we’ve not only delivered a one-off payment to more than 600 frontline workers but now agreed a roadmap showing how their pay packets will increase in line with the Real Living Wage by April 2026.

“This extra money is just one way we can show our thanks and gratitude to some of our community’s most valuable and important workers.”

The move has been welcomed by the GMB trade union. GMB Wandsworth Branch Secretary Sonya Davis who said: “This is a positive step by Wandsworth Council and we are glad it’s being taken now. Too often councils take for granted their workers, outsourcing them to a life of poverty. Wandsworth is turning an important corner in committing to remedying this wrong for all its workers.”

And Ibrahim Mutembi who works for housing estate cleaning contractor Lewis and Graves, and was one of their employees to receive a £300 cost of living bonus said: “I and my family are very grateful for the bonus. It really helped us with energy bills and considering the cost of living, it was really handy.”