The Workers Party has called for the introduction of a Living Wage of at least £7.65 per hour for all public sector employees and for the same provision to written in to contracts with private sector companies delivering public projects.
As many 170,000 workers in Northern Ireland are being paid less than the living wage. Many are sales assistants, cleaners, kitchen and catering staff, bar staff and leisure attendants. Many work in local councils and government departments. The Party is calling on Finance Minister Simon Hamilton to introduce legislation at the Assembly to allow local authorities to pay this rate of a Living Wage. We are also arguing that public contracts be awarded only when the employer is paying the Living Wage rate.
The Party sees this initiative as a first step in tackling poverty in Northern Ireland. It should be followed by an urgent and planned programme to address poverty and the working poor and the utilisation of state and public assets to deliver economic change in Northern Ireland
Those opposed to a living wage, and those who say we can’t afford it, might wish to reflect on the fact that it has already been introduced in Scotland, is being considered in Wales and that Boris Johnston – who has introduced it for all council employees in London – is one of its biggest advocates.
See also: Belfast Telegraph Letters to the Editor