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States urged to adopt a living wage for workers

States urged to adopt a living wage for workers

Thursday 15 June 2017

States urged to adopt a living wage for workers

Jersey's States are being urged to force their contractors, such as cleaning and gardening companies, to pay their employees a 'living wage.'

The call comes from Deputy Andrew Lewis, who is a member of the Jersey Living Wage Advisory Council and has campaigned for a living wage for Jersey for the past four years, said: “It is now time for the for States to sign up as a member of the living wage foundation. However, to do so the States also needs to ensure that all its suppliers, including recently out-sourced providers such as cleaning and gardening companies, also pay their staff the living wage.”

The living wage is currently £9.75 per hour, compared to the minimum wage which is £7.18.

At the Caritas annual lecture on Tuesday 13 June, the Chief Minister spoke about how the key to tackling poverty was all about creating more jobs, but Deputy Lewis thinks the States need to go a step further than just creating jobs.

“Not only does the living wage create a greater incentive for people to take jobs but it stops the ridiculous situation that we currently find ourselves in whereby the government is subsidising the few businesses that do not currently pay a living wage. It does this by topping up workers’ salaries through income support and supplementation.

“Living wage detractors always point to the potential for jobs to be lost but this is a red herring. By paying people a decent amount for their work, you stimulate the economy by putting more money in consumers’ pockets and crucially, you increase the tax take at the same time.

“On the other hand, the current situation creates a perverse incentive for employers to pay their staff less, thereby reducing income tax and paying out more through benefits.

“During Senator Gorst’s speech today [June 13] he highlighted the strength of Jersey’s economy and wanted everyone to share in this success saying that he “wanted to raise income for the poorest”. One of the quickest ways to do this is to get on with introducing a living wage for Jersey,” said Deputy Lewis.

The former Dean of Jersey, the Rev Bob Key, also spoke at the lecture and ended his speech saying that, “...the strive towards a living wage should not be optional but core business for Jerseys Government."


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