This week, Southwark will be joining the Mayor of London, the Living Wage Foundation and hundreds of businesses across the capital as we celebrate the London living wage.
I’ve lost count at the amount of times I’ve visited a business and behind the reception desk I’ve seen the blue and yellow plaque of the Living Wage Foundation. In the last year alone, Southwark has welcomed an additional 27 accredited London living wage employers, all cause for celebration. Nevertheless it's also important we use this time to reflect on our commitment to the living wage, not as a crusade against businesses making profit but a commitment to our Labour value ‘a fair day's wage for a fair day's work’.
Southwark Council has been an accredited living wage employer since 2012, ensuring the living wage is paid to all staff, including those employed by contractors. Since then we’ve led the way in working with businesses across Southwark to promote the living wage and this year we renewed our commitment to the London living wage by adopting the recommendations from our Living Wage Symposium (You can read the full report here
). The recommendation focussed on 5 key areas, the role of national government, the role of local government, businesses, employees and consumers.
For businesses, the report posed a number of questions on whether more could be done to engage in the policy debates on pay and cost of living at national/ local level. The symposium clearly highlighted the benefits of “dialogue between businesses and policy makers and the need to create more spaces where this can take place”. The report also recognised that some businesses may perceive that they are trapped in a low-pay business model by economic forces outside their control and feel unable to engage with policy debates. The Living Wage Foundation provides forums for open dialogue on pay, and here in Southwark we have a Business Forum
to discuss key concerns for businesses. Taking the opportunity to engage with debate on pay may help employers to explore innovative solutions to paying the Living wage.
The report also highlighted the need for all levels of government to celebrate good business practice in their local area and lead by example by becoming a living wage accredited employer. It’s also important for policy makers to recognise that while some organisations will be ready to make the transition to the Living wage immediately, others will need support as they seek to introduce a new pay policy.
Finally, the report also considered the role of consumer choices in promoting the Living Wage, and it is here we can all make a difference. The Living Wage Foundation is taking steps to make consumer choices to use living wage businesses easier with a map linking to accredited living wage employers. You can view your local Southwark accredited living wage employer here
On behalf of our residents, Southwark Labour will be promoting and supporting living wage employers as they continue to invest in their employees. You can join us by visiting your local London Living Wage employer this week and sharing your visit on #LivingWageWeek
Cllr Johnson Situ
Southwark Cabinet Member for Business, Employment and Culture