By Tom Skinner, Greater Manchester Living Wage campaign.
Last year the Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign saw a huge boost in Living Wage Employers across the city region. We’ve seen 7 of the 10 local authorities start to pay, or recommit to paying, the Living Wage, at least to their in-house staff.
So all the numbers seem good… except the most important ones. The number of Greater Manchester workers who are paid below the Living Wage has risen to just over a quarter of a million. Ongoing austerity and economic stagnation, inequality, cuts to in-work benefits, and the high cost of living especially in housing and other areas where the market is failing, are responsible for this deep crisis of in-work poverty. We cannot wish these huge, over-arching forces away; they need to be challenged in many ways, in which 38 Degrees members are more than playing their part.
Our role has been to highlight this problem, show another way, and start working practically to empower as many employers and employees to improve the situation. In that we have achieved what we set out to do.
We’ve built partnerships with campaigners, M.P.s, councillors, faith groups, businesses, charities and more, and made local and national news. We’ve gone out door-knocking on businesses to ask what they know about the Living Wage and to offer incentives if they sign up. We’ve also formalised our working relationship with the national Living Wage Foundation while maintaining our independence. And as I said at the beginning, the results speak for themselves:
- Since our launch just over two years ago the number of accredited Living Wage Employers has risen by more than 600%, to almost 100
- Greater Manchester can boast the first Chamber of Commerce and the first football club (FC United) to become Living Wage Employers
- Local authorities are mostly now paying or aspiring to the Living Wage, and taking seriously the challenge of in-work poverty in their areas
In 2016 we plan to build on these partnerships and results, and move towards a city region where the Living Wage is structurally and culturally supported. If you would like to get involved in making Greater Manchester a Living Wage City Region, please sign up to stay in touch and hear about opportunities to get more involved!
LW campaign wbsite for all information about current rates etc.
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