WORKERS living on ‘poverty pay’ will have to wait until at least February to see if they will receive the living wage.

A motion to implement the pay increase for 500 Dorset County Council workers was put before the authority this morning.

Proposing the living wage, coun Paul Kimber said the council ‘can’t turn its back’ on low paid workers, such as carers and cleaners.

But leader of the council Spencer Flower proposed sending the issue to staffing committee for further debate.

Because of this, and in accordance with the constitution, councillors were unable to give their views on the living wage.

They could only comment on whether or not they wanted the issue to go to staffing committee.

Four members abstained from voting but the motion was carried through.

This means that workers will have to wait until the next full council meeting in February before a decision on pay is reached.

Coun Mike Byatt, who abstained, said: “I am a bit curious as to what’s happening here today.

“We talked earlier about engaging local members and I think it is very important we are seen at a full council meeting to be given the opportunity to talk and debate on important issues.

“There is huge public interest and importance in this issue, so while I accept completely it can be referred for further debate, it undermines democracy if we are not able to discuss this issue.”

According to local trade unions, the authority currently has 500 staff receiving less than the living wage of £7.65 per hour.

Members of the Dorchester, Weymouth, Portland and District Trades Union Council met outside County Hall this morning to urge councillors to support the living wage.

They are also worried about the 621 council employees on zero hour contracts.

Lee Rhodes, vice chairman of Unison Dorset, said: “At the moment we have got staff living on wages below poverty pay of £7.47 per hour.

“Some of those people are carers- key members of the ageing community of Dorset.

“Those people couldn’t be here this morning because they are out working for low pay.

“We want to get people away from a reliance on benefits- so let’s do that by paying them a living wage.”