Labour group leader ‘disappointed’ after council votes against looking into living wage for contractors

Warwick District Counci
Warwick District Counci

A motion for Warwick District Council to ensure the contractors and suppliers it uses are paying their staff the national living wage has been rejected by members.

The motion was put forward by the district’s Labour Group at a council meeting last Wednesday.

Members voted against the motion by 25 votes to 12.

At the meeting, the group’s leader Cllr John Barrott (Leamington Willes) said: “Last year, following a notice of motion from the Labour Group, this council agree to support the introduction of the National Living Wage for all its employees.

“Following work undertaken by council officers, to find out how many employees were paid below the national minimum wage and what the potential costs were, the executive agreed to this introduction.

“At the time of that motion the living wage had been independently set nationally at £7.45 but it is now set at £7.85.

“Therefore I seek members’ approval of the following motion - ‘the council will seek, through the procurement process, that its contractors and suppliers of goods and services pay their employees the national living wage.

“‘The council asks its executive and officers to begin this process by engaging in dialogue with all the relevant stakeholders and report back to the council with their findings and recommendations’.”

Cllr Michael Coker (Con, Kenilworth Abbey), the council’s deputy leader, said that while he and fellow conservatives do support the living wage there was no need for such action as Chancellor George Osbourne has already announced legislation that will make employers pay the national living wage and that by 2020 the living wage would surpass the minimum wage anyway.

Cllr Coker said: “Of course we think people should be paid properly and for this reason we brought the living wage into our own calculations.

“But there is no necessity or need to support this motion because the chancellor will force the living wage on employers anyway.

“This motion is well intended but it is a bit late in the day.”

In a statement after the meeting, Cllr Barrott said he was “disappointed at the Conservative councillors’ unwillingness to pay a living wage to those people who provide quality services for the council and, importantly, the residents of the district”.

Cllr Coker said the living wage is expected to be £9.20 per hour by 2020.