Living wage campaign for Dorset County Council staff

Dorset Echo: Trade union members outside County Hall Trade union members outside County Hall

CAMPAIGNERS for a living wage for Dorset County Council staff are maintaining their calls for a referendum despite what they described as ‘something of a move forward’ in the authority’s attitude.

Members of the Dorchester, Weymouth, Portland and District Trades Council lobbied members before the latest full meeting of the county council, at which they put forward a motion to increase the pay of 500 staff earning below the living wage of £7.65.

The matter was referred to the council’s staffing committee and the Trades Council then responded by calling for a public referendum on the matter.

The staffing committee has now met and agreed that the national living wage campaign should be recognised and included in its national pay negotiations. Members were told that the cost of increasing the wages of its lowest paid employees to meet the living wage rate was around £420,000.

Dorset County Council has a policy of implementing wage settlement negotiations agreed at a national level with the Local Government Association and trade unions.

Members of the committee agreed this would be the most appropriate channel to discuss and agree an appropriate way forward for a living wage.

They will now be asking for the full council’s backing at its next meeting in February.

During the meeting, county council leader Spencer Flower also agreed to meet with living wage campaigners to discuss the issue in more detail.

He said: “We have a great deal of sympathy for the living wage campaigners and agree that the current minimum wage does not reflect the cost of living.

“While Dorset County Council is unable to implement the living wage on its own, we can show our support as part of our national negotiations and I’m happy to discuss the matter with campaigners in more detail.

“Our view is that any increase should be linked specifically to the lowest paid and the Living Wage rather than there being an increase to all pay scales which would have a significant and unaffordable impact on the council’s payroll costs.”

Secretary of the Trades Council Tim Nicholls accepted that the outcome of the staffing committee meeting was something of a step forward.

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