John McDonnell, Labour’s shadow chancellor, paid a flying visit to the council this morning to endorse its work in making Croydon a Living Wage borough.After meeting the council leader, Tony Newman, and Labour councillors, McDonnell was taken on a visit to Stubbs Mead at Factory Lane, where in-house contractors are paying their employees the Living Wage, which is currently £9.15 per hour in London. This is £2.65 per hour more than the National Minimum Wage. It is calculated as the amount people need to cover the basic costs of living.
The irony, though, is that some of those staff may soon not have a wage at all: Stubbs Mead will soon no longer operate the council’s car pound, in one of Croydon’s latest cost-cutting exercises. It is not known whether this was discussed with McDonnell.
Croydon Council was formally accredited as a Living Wage employer at the end of October, thereby fulfilling one of Labour’s manifesto pledges made in the 2014 local elections.
As Croydon’s largest employer, the council now wants to encourage other organisations in the borough to follow its lead and do the same. The council has also made it a requirement for its contractors to pay staff the London Living Wage, the condition included in all new tenders.
Improving the rates of pay for all workers was McDonnell’s first policy announcement after he was appointed shadow chancellor by Labour’s new leader, Jeremy Corbyn, in September.
“Labour will bring down the welfare bill, not by punishing the most vulnerable but through supporting a higher wage economy, introducing a real £10 an hour living wage, tackling high rents by addressing the housing crisis and supporting stronger trade unions to drive up pay,” McDonnell said.
Newman described Croydon Council’s Living Wage status as being “very much the beginning”.
Newman said, “It is our ambition to see the London Living Wage rolled out across every company and organisation in our borough, as we have already seen with employers such as IKEA and Lidl. This council will lead by example, and we hope other employers follow us.”
Entitled “Fighting the Tories – a Manifesto for Action”, the day’s discussion aims to influence the writing of a manifesto as a part of the national debate on a way forward for society and as a guide for campaigning in the local area.
Also due to speak is Andrew Fisher, the Croydon-based union official and author of The Failed Experiment and occasional Inside Croydon contributor, who has so far withstood attempts by party “colleagues” within Croydon – such as The Hon Emily Benn – for him to be expelled from the party.
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