Hundreds of Doncaster Council workers are in line for a pay rise after the authority pledged to move lowest paid staff on to the living wage
Talks between unions and the council could mean staff move from the minimum wage to the so-called ‘living wage’ by April.
It would mean any workers on the minimum wage, currently £6.50 an hour, would see their pay increased to £7.85 an hour.
The change could boost the wages of about 600 staff, including cleaners, costing around £480,000 a year.
Cleaning and catering staff, care workers, streetscene employees, library workers, horticulturists and service technicians would all benefit.
Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones and the Unison, GMB and Unite unions said in a joint statement: “Doncaster Council is committed to making sure that its staff are paid the living wage.
In Doncaster we are well on track to delivering on this pledge and are currently in the final stages of negotiations to make this happen within this financial year.
“We also believe that other employers within Doncaster would support this positive decision and the beneficial effects that this will have on the local economy.
“We encourage other employers to follow Doncaster Council’s lead on this issue.”
But business leaders say the council must be realistic over the prospect of other local employers heeding the call for them to raise wages.
Dan Fell, chief executive of Doncaster Chamber, said: “Doncaster is home to some outstanding businesses that are very good employers. Great businesses understand the value of their workforce and look after their staff in terms of remuneration, benefits and investment in training and development. I suspect most local business leaders will applaud the council’s aspiration to pay all staff the living wage.
“However, whilst the principles of paying a living wage are sound we must also be realistic about the scope and scale of Doncaster’s businesses and ability of many of them to pay staff more than they currently do.
“Six thousand or thereabouts of our 6,500 or so businesses employ less than 10 people, local businesses are still trading in relatively challenging economic times and our small to medium sized firms also face a number of other regulatory and financial burdens that have a negative impact on their profitability. We must therefore be realistic about the ability of many of these firms to pay the living wage.
“In the mid to long term the Chamber is confident a combination of key transformational projects combined with local business growth will drive up wages in Doncaster.”
Readers gave their views on the living wage on social media.
Rob Johnson said: “My wife is a senior carer in a care home and is on just over £7 an hour. It is about time this Government saw the living wage as the minimum wage and made it so that the starter wage was £7.85 regardless of age.”
Vanessa Naylor added: “I get £6.57 per hour and for a working mum it does not cover much that’s for certain. I would love to be on the living wage.”
Dawn Parkes Knighton said: “I’m a carer on £6.50. It would make a great difference if it went up to £7.85. I would be able to do basic hours and spend more quality time with my family instead of working extra hours to make ends meet.”
Catrina Reckio Baker, who said she earned £7.12 an hour in her shop job, added: “I only work part time at 12 hours a week, the weekly struggle I go through is making my depression even worse.
“My rent alone is £26 a week, then all the bills on top of that, I barely afford to feed myself, and I have debt issues where I’m getting hounded and threatened.
“I don’t know where they expect me to get the money from. The politicians should live our lives on the money we are on for a month and see how hard it is.”