1,600 Shropshire Council staff earn under living wage

Hundreds of Shropshire Council staff are in 'working poverty' and earning barely more than the  minimum wage, new figures have revealed.

A total of 1,600 full and part-time workers, including school staff, are on less than the national Living Wage, which is £7.45 per hour outside London.

The figures have been revealed in a Freedom of Information request by trade union Unison, which has now set up an online petition calling for better wages to be introduced for the council's lowest-paid workers.

More than 900 of the workers are directly employed by Shropshire Council, with over 750 in the county's schools.

The staff are paid between £6.35 and £7.11 per hour. The National Minimum Wage is currently £6.19 for people aged 21 and over.

Adrian Andrew, assistant branch secretary of Shropshire Unison, said the number of employees on the low wages equated to about 500 full-time workers. The living wage is calculated according to the basic cost of living and has recently been backed by Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

More than 150 people have signed the Shropshire petition since it was launched at the start of this week, with 1,000 named needed to force a council debate.

Mr Andrew said he hoped that Shropshire Council would be willing to indicate that it would be open to introducing a living wage in time.

"Shropshire Unison is not asking for this to be implemented overnight," he said. "I would like to see the council agree they would like to implement it – when they choose to implement it is down to them."

He said he hoped the council could set an example to other employers. "I would like to see all Shropshire employers become accredited to the living wage campaign and this is a start in achieving this aim," he said.

The petition is online at www.petitions.shropshire.gov.uk

Contact Unison on (01743) 252952 or unison@shropshire.gov.uk

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