Aberdeenshire Council introduces living wage to staff members

ABERDEENSHIRE Council is set to become the latest Scottish local authority to introduce a living wage supplement of £7.20 an hour for its staff.

• Council workers will receive £7.20 an hour under the new plans laid out by the authority

• Concerns raised over possible effect of paying council employees more than other bodies who deliver same service

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Members of the council’s policy and resources committee are expected to agree to the introduction of the new minimum pay rate for around 1800 of its low paid workers at a meeting in Aberdeen on Thursday.

Christine Gore, the director of corporate services, states in a report to the committee: “The introduction of the living wage supplement will help demonstrate the council’s commitment to enhancing the standard of living for its lowest paid staff and will help to improve morale in these difficult financial times.

“In respect of the on-going negotiations with the trade unions on the proposed changes to terms and conditions of service, the backdating of the living wage supplement (£7.20 per hour) to 1 April 2012 may assist with this process if presented as an act of good faith on the part of the council. “

But she continues: “There is, however, a concern that by introducing the living wage supplement (£7.20 per hour) and then replacing this with the Scottish Government living wage supplement (£7.50 per hour) this may have the effect of paying council employees a significantly higher hourly rate than other bodies who could deliver the same service. This may then make it more challenging to demonstrate best value in

some service areas. “

Ms Gore adds: “The full year cost of backdating the living wage supplement (£7.20 per hour) to 1 April 2012 has been estimated to be £185,000 including employer on costs. This could be funded from the current revenue budget underspend.

“ If the £7.50 rate was implemented as a supplement as of 1 April 2013, the recurring cost has been estimated to be approximately £600,000, including employer on costs.”

Inez Teece, (correct) the Unison branch secretary at Aberdeenshire Council and lead negotiator for the joint trade unions, welcomed the move. She said: “Unison along with the other unions have been pressing for the council to keep to their commitment to backdate the living wage to April 2012 and we are delighted that they have heeded our call. This is great news for our low paid members who will see a boost to their wages early in the New Year.

“This is not just welcome news for our lowest paid, living as they do in one of the most expensive parts of Scotland, but it is also good news for the local economy as these workers will have a bit more cash to spend in local shops and businesses.”