News from the Quaker Living Wage Campaign

By Chris W on October 27, 2016

With Living Wage Week (31 October–5 November) just around the corner, and Mid-Thames Area Meeting recently becoming accredited as a Living Wage Employer, it seemed fitting to check in with the campaign. Ruth Tod from Henley Meeting, who helped coordinate this recent accreditation, describes the steps to success.

Several Friends in our area are part of the Reading Living Wage group and our meetings are usually held in the meeting house. We quickly discovered that most people have not heard of the Living Wage or confuse it with the government’s version, which is much lower and doesn’t apply to workers under the age of 25. Publicity and debate seem the most important things to do. We gained quite a lot of attention last year at our stalls at the Town Meal, which is a big annual festival, and in Living Wage Week, when we also showed the film The Divide. We found inviting other organisations to pay the Living Wage to be more challenging. Maybe we need to concentrate on raising awareness and see what happens. Meanwhile we brought the matter to our area meeting.

Having gained the agreement of our area meeting and our trustees to look into this, I researched the hours and pay of all our regular employees and contracted workers. I found that only three out of the eight of them do more than two hours per week, but it was good to know that they all already receive above £8.25 per hour. The Living Wage Foundation asks us to distinguish between the area meeting’s own employees and contracted workers who are self-employed or work for an agency. For a fee of £50 we now can display the Living Wage logo in all of our seven meeting houses. We have explained what it involves to all our meetings and asked them to promote the campaign by displaying Living Wage posters.

The Living Wage – a vital component of the new economy

The Living Wage is based on what the general public says the average family needs to meet a basic standard of living in the UK. For a meeting house or area meeting to be accredited as a Living Wage Employer, all of its employees who work more than two hours per week must be paid at least £8.25 per hour, which is the current rate calculated by the Living Wage Foundation. The rate increases annually and the 2016/17 rate will be announced during Living Wage Week.

The Quaker Living Wage Campaign, launched by Lancaster Meeting last year, ties in well with the need highlighted by Minute 23 from Britain Yearly Meeting 2011 for the creation of a fairer economic system in which Quaker testimonies can flourish. A Living Wage guarantees people at least a basic standard of living and security and contributes to a more equal society.

Some ideas for a new economy in which Quaker testimonies can flourish are explored in a series of booklets produced by QPSW. Booklet 2 asks how we might better organise work as if people and non-human life mattered, and suggests the Living Wage could be a vital tenet of a vision for the new economy.

The first and second New Economy booklets are now available to read at www.quaker.org.uk/ new-economy. If you would like paper copies of these think pieces, please email Cait Crosse at caitc@quaker.org.uk or call 020 7663 1035.

Getting involved

The Quaker Living Wage Campaign will continue to raise awareness of the Living Wage and issues associated with in-work poverty. If you would like to get more involved, you can:

- ask your area meeting trustees to work to become an accredited Living Wage Employer

- write to businesses like the Co-op and other mutual societies to which you belong and encourage them to pay the Living Wage

- check if your local council pays the Living Wage and is seeking accreditation

- contact the Lancaster Quaker Living Wage Project Group by emailing livingwage@ lancsquakers.org.uk and find out more information at www.lancsquakers.org.uk/ livingwagecampaign.php

- find further details of resources and opportunities on offer during Living Wage Week at www.livingwage.org.uk/living-wage-week

- request a Living Wage Campaign pack by emailing Maya Williams at mayaw@quaker. org.uk. (Please be aware that unless you ask us not to, we will share your contact details with Lancaster Quakers so they can be in touch with you directly.)

 

 

 

 

 

1 Office for National Statistics, http://visual.ons.gov.uk/ how-many-jobs-are-paid-less-thanthe-living-wage-in-your-area

2 TUC (2015), “15 percent increase in people working more than 48 hours a week risks return to ‘Burnout Britain’’: https://www.tuc.org.uk/international-issues/ europe/workplace-issues/work-life-balance/15-cent-increase-people-working-more.

3 Poverty wages defined as wages below the Living Wage. IPPR and Resolution Foundation, Beyond the bottom line: the challenges and opportunities of a living wage (2013).

 

 

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