This week saw the launch of a Living Wage Charter at the National Assembly, aimed at boosting both household budgets and the Welsh economy.
The Charter is the latest campaign from watchdog Cuts Watch Cymru (CWC), a network of frontline organisations in Wales who monitor and campaign on poverty issues.
“The living wage is the minimum hourly rate you need for an adequate standard of housing, food and other basic needs,” Mike Hedges AM told the launch. The new suggested living wage is £7.65 outside London. The national minimum wage is just £6.31 for the over 20s and as low as £3.72 for 16/17-year olds.
Welsh people on the minimum wage have to claim benefits just to get by. 23% of all earners in Wales are paid less than the living wage – 250,000 people. Paying a living wage gives people back their dignity and boosts local shops and businesses as they spend more. Over 400 UK employers have already signed up to paying a living wage, including just 14 in Wales so far.
Julian Rosser of Oxfam Cymru said: ” We want councils and all the public sector to look into the costs and benefits of becoming accredited living wage employers and publish the results.”
Jonathan Cox of Citizens Cymru added: ” Wales could become a Living Wage nation if the Welsh Government extending the living wage into the private sector through its procurement policies.
“The Living Wage makes sound business sense when it comes to recruiting and keeping staff and is increasingly becoming a mark of good practice. When employers sign up, absenteeism goes down and work quality rises,” said Maria Mallon, HR manager for Chwarae Teg, who have become a Living Wage employer.
The Charter’s launch takes place in Living Wage Week, a UK-wide celebration of the Living Wage and Living Wage Employers, which runs until November 9.
Pictured (left to right) are: Kay Polley (TCC), Mike Hedges AM. Margaret Thomas (Unison), Christine O’Byrne (Chwarae Teg), Julian Rosser (Oxfam Cymru) and Samater Nour (Living Wage Ambassador)