E& E Letters | Long road to raise wages

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11 July 2013

Letters | Long road to raise wages

I THANK Andrew Bell for his qualified welcome of the news that Exeter City Council has pledge to a ‘living wage’ to its staff (A living wage is needed by all, Letters, June 27).

I echo his view that it is wishful thinking that to hope that businesses in the city will follow the lead taken by Exeter City Council.

That is why myself and my Labour colleagues have had long and in-depth discussions at local party level.

That is why I welcomed the excellent report on low average earnings in Exeter that came before Scrutiny Committee – Economy on 30 May. He may be interested to know that the committee recommended that the scrutiny economy and executives “consider mechanisms that would provide the means to ensure that the City strives to achieve higher wage levels” .

One of those mechanisms was to be considered was the establishment of a Task and Finish Group.

At the subsequent Executive Committee meeting, Cllr Rosie Denham, as Portfolio Holder for Economy and Culture, put forward a proposal to establish a Low Wage Forum, to consider the impact of low wages and high cost of living on Exeter residents and identify strategies to address these issues. This forum would invite representatives from the university, local businesses and community groups to come along to give views and evidence to councillors. I want to ensure that I never hear comments like “people should be pleased to work here and be happy with low pay – just look at the views”.

I am sure that this new forum will address many issues, including how to encourage as many businesses as possible to follow Exeter City Council’s lead. I would imagine that the forum would enter into meaningful dialogue with the Living Wage Foundation.

I, for one, have no illusions how hard this journey will be but I am looking forward to the challenges ahead. So this is no simple wishful thinking, but the start of robust positive action to encourage city businesses to follow the lead set by the strong Labour administration on Exeter City Council.

Paul Bull
Labour and Co-operative Councillor for Cowick

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