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Posted on 17 December 2012 at 21:53 GMT

Lobby of Carmarthenshire Council by Unison, photo by Scott Jones

Lobby of Carmarthenshire Council by Unison, photo by Scott Jones   (Click to enlarge)

Lobbying Carmarthenshire council for a 'living wage'

On Wednesday 12th December, I joined Unison members and Socialist Party activists who braved a bitterly cold West Wales morning to lobby Carmarthenshire councillors as they arrived at County Hall to demand a living wage for the 2,800 members who currently earn below the 7.45 it is calculated at.

Nationally it is estimated that over 200,000 local government employees earn less than the living wage which is seen as the minimum pay needed to provide a working family with the minimum essentials of life.

At the subsequent full council meeting councillors were told they should not wish council staff a 'Happy Christmas' after calls for an immediate pay rise were rejected.

Opposition leaders in the council said the council should be ashamed it was not going to immediately pay its lowest earning staff a living wage.

Earlier Unison Carmarthenshire branch secretary Mark Evans said more jobs would be lost unless a stand was made against cuts imposed by the Westminster parliament and Cardiff assembly.

It has been announced that all staff at the Welsh Assembly will be paid the living wage and the Labour Party has pledged to introduce a living wage if they enter government in 2015.

But many people will be thinking that they cannot wait until 2015 or beyond. The prices of fuel, utilities, transport, food, childcare etc, keep increasing.

As shadow chancellor Ed Balls himself pointed out, working class people cannot wait until the Con-Dems are booted out of office. We need action now.

I will be taking this argument to the conference of my own union next year, calling for Usdaw to launch an immediate campaign over this issue which would attract massive support from the over two million retail workers currently outside the ranks of the trade union movement, as well as many other low paid workers.

In reality most employers could afford to pay their workforce even more, which is why the Socialist Party calls for a minimum wage of 8 an hour, a figure which has been consistently cited as necessary for a decent standard of living, as a step to 10 an hour, with annual increases in the minimum wage linked to average earnings.

Scott Jones

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