Bid to increase salaries for low-paid Medway Council workers fails
More than 160 Medway council workers will continue to be paid less than the so-called 'living wage' after a move to give them rises failed.
Labour councillors wanted to give the employees an increase from January 1, next year.
Cllr Teresa Murray, deputy leader of the party and Rochester east ward councillor, pictured, asked for the motion to be passed at the full council meeting.
The living wage is different from the minimum wage of £6.31 an hour for adults which employers are legally obliged to pay staff.
It is set at a level considered enough for workers to cover the basic costs of living and has been set at £8.55 an hour in London and £7.45 an hour for the rest of the UK.
Medway’s Labour Party members wanted Medway Council to join at least 80 others across the county who have introduced the higher wage for their workers.
Conservative councillors rejected the idea saying it was a debate better suited for when the budget was set at the beginning of the financial year and not part way through the year and added that its introduction would put additional pressures on its already tight finances.
Cllr Murray said at the meeting that it would cost £170,000 (for the whole year) to introduce pay for the 167 council employees.
She added: “These are hardworking people in transient poverty who are earning less than their parents.
“We want their lives to be better, 80 other councils have taken this on and have faced up to it.”
Cllr Paul Godwin (Lab) for the central Chatham ward, supported the motion telling members the pay increase would improve moral and motivation and show Medway Council to be a good employer.
Cllr Godwin added: “The council should lead by example.”
Geoff Juby, Lib Dem leader and Gillingham south ward councillor seemed to support the idea and said he thought the pay rise was affordable now or could be included for the budget projection next year.
But Cllr Alan Jarrett, deputy leader and head of finance, said he had to take into the account the state of the council’s current finances and that the administration would not be supporting the motion.
He added: “This is not the time for it and the administration will not be supporting it.”
Cllr David Brake (Con) for the Walderslade ward added: “The sums just don’t add up.”
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