The Labour Party candidate to become Bristol’s first elected mayor has pledged to raise wage levels of all council staff to £7.20 an hour.
Marvin Rees said one of his first priorities if elected would be to make Bristol a ‘Living Wage city’. Initially, all council staff earning less than £7.20 an hour – considered to be enough to provide for the basic cost of living in the UK – would see their pay rise.
He said that as every council contract is re-tendered, a requirement for businesses to pay the Living Wage to their staff would be included.
Mr Rees added that he would introduce a Fairness Commission to bring together business, unions, councillors and communities “to adopt the Living Wage as a minimum for any worker in Bristol”.
The announcement comes after the Liberal Democrat administration in the city announced in July a one-off pay increase to Living Wage levels for council staff.
There are 247 full-time equivalent council employees and 372 full-time equivalent schools’ employees who fall below the Living Wage threshold.
Meanwhile, earlier this month, staff at Avon Fire Authority were told they would all be paid a minimum of the Living Wage, meaning pay could rise by almost one pound an hour from current minimum wage levels.
“There is something fundamentally wrong with the way we run our country when people meet their obligation to work hard and yet still live in poverty. We want to put that right,” Mr Rees said.
“The Living Wage is an issue of justice but it must also be understood as an important contributor to our economic recovery. It puts demand into the economy and it reduces the amount government spends on benefits and other state interventions needed when poverty and inequality become the norm.
“This is about creating the right environment for family, community and the Bristol economy.”
Mr Rees’ announcement comes after the South West branch of the TUC called for the new mayor – due to be elected in November – to make his or her number one priority to boost the city’s economy by getting people back to work.
Writing for Bristol24-7, Nigel Costley, Regional Secretary of the South West TUC, said he wanted a mayor who would “harness the city’s potential to produce employment and quality career options for all its citizens, reducing the gap between the rich and the rest”.
He added that a Living Wage policy would be an advantage for the city, and called for the mayor to “recognise the positive role trade unions can make to a workplace and wider society”.